FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots running back Shane Vereen, who injured his wrist in Week 1 and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return, was back at practice on Wednesday, a critical step in his rehab and potential return to game action.
In being placed on IR with the designation to return, Vereen did not count against the 53-man roster, but was ineligible to practice for six weeks and must miss a total of at least eight games. Because the Patriots have a bye in Week 10, Vereen could return to the field as soon as Week 11.
He was a standout performer in the team's Week 1 win over Buffalo, rushing for a career-best 101 yards. He gives the team its best option as an up-tempo running back to catch the football out of the backfield.
Veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back Leon Washington (ankle) were also back at practice. Each player was injured during a Week 5 loss in Cincinnati and has not practiced since. With Kelly and Washington back in the fold, all members of the 53-man roster were present.
Kelly was the team's top defensive tackle after losing Vince Wilfork for the season. The Patriots added veteran defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who also made his practice debut, via trade on Tuesday. After relying on rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano in recent weeks, a return from Kelly and Sopoaga gives the team experience along the defensive front.
Finally, the Patriots announced before practice that three rookies -- wide receiver Josh Boyce, linebacker Steve Beauharnais and defensive back Justin Green -- were named the practice players of the week for Week 8. Those players wear black jerseys for the week following their award.