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Chris Hogan returns to practice for first time since shoulder injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right shoulder Oct. 29 against the Chargers, opening the possibility that he will be available for Monday night's game against the Miami Dolphins.

Hogan's return would be welcome news for the Patriots, as they will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is serving a one-game NFL suspension for his late hit on Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White.

Patriots WR Chris Hogan, who injured his right shoulder on Oct. 29 against the Chargers, returned to practice for the first time since the injury. The Patriots are practicing in full pads with the heat turned up inside the Empower Fieldhouse.

Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer

If not, Hogan probably would be ready to go by the next week, with a highly anticipated Dec. 17 game against the AFC-leading Pittsburgh Steelers.

Without Hogan over the last four games, the Patriots have leaned heavily on Brandin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett and Danny Amendola on a thin receiver depth chart, and they've been fortunate all have remained healthy.

Cooks: 254 of 270 snaps

Dorsett: 168 of 270 snaps

Amendola: 133 of 270 snaps

The potential return of Hogan also could open the possibility of using a four-receiver set, which hasn't been an option for coordinator Josh McDaniels based on the available personnel.

Meanwhile, the Patriots had quite a few absences for their full-pads practice inside the Empower Fieldhouse, where the heat was turned up as the club prepares for warmer temperatures in South Florida. Quarterback Tom Brady missed a Wednesday practice for the third straight week as he opts for additional treatment, while starting right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), linebacker Kyle Van Noy (calf), defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., and cornerback Malcolm Butler weren't spotted by reporters. Gronkowski, who is serving his suspension, isn't allowed to practice.

The team's first injury report will be issued on Thursday.