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Veteran CB Tarell Brown's absence has to be concern for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots cornerback Tarell Brown was not present at the start of practice Friday, marking the second straight day he wasn't spotted and heightening concerns about the status of his injured foot.

Brown, who opened the season as the No. 2 cornerback opposite Malcolm Butler, underwent offseason foot surgery and appeared to be past any issues at the end of training camp and through the regular-season opener against the Steelers, when he played 64 of a possible 73 snaps.

But Brown appeared to hit a speed bump in the Sept. 20 victory over the Bills, as he started but was managed carefully after coming off the field in the first half. He ultimately played 53 of 72 snaps in that game, before dressing but not playing at all the following week in a victory over the Jaguars.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Brown returned last Sunday against the Cowboys, playing in sub packages and mostly lining up against slot receiver Cole Beasley. He was effective, playing 45 of a possible 72 snaps.

Perhaps with Brown's foot in mind, the Patriots claimed cornerback Rashaan Melvin (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) on waivers from the Ravens on Wednesday.

"He has good size, good length, runs well, tough kid. We had an opening on the roster with Nate [Solder’s] situation so we had an opportunity to look at him," coach Bill Belichick said Friday of Melvin.

If Brown is sidelined, the Patriots would enter Sunday night's game against the Colts with Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman and Melvin on their cornerback depth chart. Safety Devin McCourty is also an option at the position in an emergency.