Patriots players will return to work this morning after a short break to enjoy the holiday on Tuesday, meaning its back to business as usual at One Patriot Place. Here's a look at what's on tap.
* Back on the field. The Patriots will begin day one of their on-field preparations for the Miami Dolphins, their final regular season opponent and a familiar division foe. The location (indoor facility or practice fields) and attire (full pads, light shell shoulder pads, etc.) for that practice remain unclear, although the team has reached the point of the season where full-pads sessions are seldom and mental reps are of critical importance.
* Brady to speak. Quarterback Tom Brady will hold his weekly press conference this morning, and the last time we heard from him publicly he was still disappointed in his team's performance in Week 16. The veteran quarterback made it clear that what his offense has shown over the past two weeks won't cut it in the playoffs, and that the team needs to eliminate what he described as "self-inflicted errors."
* Gronk watch. Until he returns to the field for game action, we'll continue to closely monitor the health and status of tight end Rob Gronkowski. Initial projections for a timetable to return following Gronk's surgery on his forearm had him potentially on the field for Week 17. He seems to be coming along, as he's practiced on a limited basis for each of the last four on-field sessions, although his status for Sunday may not yet be determined. While the offense would love to bring back the All-Pro player, it's possible that he'll be rested until the playoffs to prevent further injury.
* Cunningham returns. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has not formally been activated to the 53-man roster, but he has had his suspension lifted after serving a four-game ban. That means he is eligible to be back in the practice facility and will be with his teammates today, which is a boost to the Patriots' pass rush. The team has a one-week exemption (that expires Monday) for Cunningham's roster spot, but indications are that he'll be reinstated in advance of Sunday's game.
* Roster moves brewing? The Patriots parted ways with four players -- two active roster, two practice squadders -- on Monday, opening the door for some roster activity in the near future. Both of the active roster players, James Develin and Kamar Aiken, cleared waivers on Tuesday, making them free agents. With the practice squad at just five players, either or both could be re-added today or soon in order to stick with the team. One of the two active roster spots is likely to be used on Cunningham, meaning the team has flexibility to add one more piece at another position.