Patriots taking positive steps on injury front

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Patriots taking positive steps on injury front

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots are a close-to-the-vest, even-keeled team regardless of who the opponent may be.

That lock-and-load focus has been on another level leading up to Sunday's game against AFC rival New York Jets.

Of course, having focus always helps.

Healthy bodies? Even better.

The Pats are certainly moving in the right direction on the health front, with a couple of key players -- tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (back) -- returning to practice this week.

"Anytime you got another weapon out there, it helps out and really helps us move the ball and get us working down the field," said Pats wide receiver Wes Welker, whose success of late has been in part because of the absence of Hernandez. "The more weapons we can have out there, the better we can be."

The same goes for the Patriots defensive line, which came into the season with one of the deepest, most experienced lines in the NFL.

In addition to Haynesworth, who hasn't played in the last two games, New England's defensive line also includes battle-tested veterans such as Andre Carter (32-years old), Vince Wilfork (30 next month), Shaun Ellis (34), Gerard Warren (34) and Mike Wright (29) who returned to practice this week after being out due to another concussion - he missed final 7 games of last season due to a concussion.

The plan going into the season was to platoon players along the defensive line as much as possible, which would keep a fresh, hard-charging body on the field on almost every down.

But the absence of Haynesworth, 30, has meant more reps for the veterans. And over the course of a game, their ability to impact a game diminishes.

Getting injured players back on the practice field is just part of the process involved in their return to actually seeing action and contributing in a meaningful way. As important as the first day back is in a player's recovery, Day Two is even more telling.

"The question really is the second day, was that too much? Do they need to back off a little bit? Was that something they could easily handle and are we able to escalate the workload?" Belichick said. "If that second day goes good, that's probably a good indication the player is ready to move up. If it doesn't or it levels off or starts to stress whatever the injury is, then the medical people will back him off a little bit until we're able to raise up and get to a higher level."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Patriots release DT Darius Kilgo, reportedly sign WR Griff Whalen

Patriots release DT Darius Kilgo, reportedly sign WR Griff Whalen

The New England Patriots have announced that they've released defensive tackle Darius Kilgo. 

The move creates an opening for wide receiver Griff Whalen, who they have reportedly signed to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Kilgo, a sixth-round pick out of Maryland in 2015, did not make an appearance for the Patriots after being claimed off waivers from the Broncos last week. He played 81 snaps for Denver this season.

Whalen, 26, played in two games for San Diego in 2016 where he caught two passes for a total of 22 yards. 

The former Colts wideout is perhaps best remembered in New England for his part in Indianapolis' disastrous fake punt against the Patriots last season.