Mankins, Dobson, Dennard absent

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Starting left guard Logan Mankins, who injured his ankle in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Bills but played through the ailment, was one of four players not spotted at the start of Wednesday's practice, the Patriots' first of three on their playoff bye week.

Mankins, who has been widely lauded for his toughness, had a walking boot in front of his locker earlier this week.

In addition, starting receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) and starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) were not spotted this morning, as the Patriots worked in light shoulder pads on the lower practice field on a cold and windy day. Receiver Josh Boyce, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, also wasn't in attendance.

The Patriots obviously aren't going to push their injured players too hard on a week in which they aren't playing a game. Their playoff opener, in the AFC divisional round, is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 11 at 8:15 p.m. ET.

A few other practice notes:

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is of interest to the Cleveland Browns for their head-coaching vacancy, was present for the workout.

Safety Devin McCourty, who missed the regular season finale with a concussion, was back on the practice field for the first time. He had missed all of last week's practices.

Offensive lineman R.J. Mattes, who was signed to the practice squad on Monday, will wear No. 60. Receiver Greg Orton, who was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday, will wear No. 16.