LB Brandon Spikes returns to practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday's practice due to a non-injury related situation. The starting linebacker, who has also been dealing with a knee injury in recent weeks, leads the team with 74 tackles.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was absent from the start of Thursday's practice, though this was expected as he is due to appear in court in Lincoln, Nebraska later today for sentencing in relation to violating his probation when he was arrested for drinking and driving in July.

On Wednesday, the Lincoln Journal Star reported that Dennard has requested a delay on his sentencing until after the season. Dennard is also due in court for a previously scheduled hearing on Friday.

Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) were once again absent on Thursday. Each left the team's Week 12 game against the Broncos due to injury and has not practiced since that time.

Wide receiver Austin Collie, who was re-signed this morning, was on the field wearing No. 10.

The Patriots practiced in shells and helmets on Thursday.