FOXBORO -- Brian Waters' locker inside Gillette Stadium is still in tact. His personal belongs aren't there, but his name plate is. And the Patriots practice uniform essentials hang underneath.
But the veteran offensive lineman was still nowhere to be found, as of the morning of Thursday's afternoon practice session.
Next to Waters' locker stood offensive lineman Logan Mankins. But even as he stood next to a locker that hasn't completely ruled out the idea of Waters' return, he said he couldn't discuss Waters' future.
"I don't want to get into that too much," said Mankins before Thursday's practice. "He's not on the team right now. So, Brian did a great job for us last year, and that's all I can say."
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FOXBORO -- The picture at wide receiver wasn't pretty for the Patriots by the time the clock hit zeros in the fourth quarter in New Orleans over the weekend.
Chris Hogan looked hobbled for much of the second half. Phillip Dorsett left with a knee injury. Danny Amendola was ruled out well in advance of kickoff with a concussion and a knee injury. Matthew Slater was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Brandin Cooks looked like the only Patriots wideout to finish the game feeling spry.
But as the team prepares for the Texans this week, Dorsett is hoping he'll be back on the field with his teammates for practice.
"I feel good," Dorsett said in the Patriots locker room Monday. "Just a little sore, but I'm alright."
Not only would it help the Patriots offense to have another body available at receiver, but Dorsett understands how crucial it is for him to practice as much as possible. He was acquired in a trade with the Colts just before the season, and he knows he has work to do to get adjusted to his new offense.
"It's just me going out there and getting the plays in practice," Dorsett said when asked about his confidence level in running New England's system. "I feel like practice builds my confidence. If I get to play in practice, I feel more comfortable when it comes to the game."
Dorsett looked comfortable in Week 2, catching three passes for 68 yards. His first grab in the first quarter went for 23 yards and came on a play when Tom Brady, who was hit as he released, threw a floater down the right sideline. Dorsett alertly saw the pass falling short and worked back toward the line of scrimmage to make the catch.
"I think he trusts me," Dorsett said of Brady. "We work a lot during practice and after practice. Hopefully we can continue to gain more trust as the season goes on. It's only the second game. We got a long way to go."
More practice time would be helpful in allowing that relationship to continue to grow. We'll see if Dorsett gets any when the Patriots take the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.