FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots players return to work today for their first practice of the week leading into Sunday's season-finale against the Miami Dolphins. As usual, the injury situation bears monitoring.
Here's a rundown of some of the team's banged-up players, and where things stand:
Danny Amendola -- In the Dec. 20 win over the Titans, the receiver/punt returner aggravated the left knee injury initially sustained Nov. 23 and that kept him on the sidelines this past Sunday. If it was a playoff game, he probably would have played. Had the Patriots clinched the No. 1 playoff seed last week, they would have had the luxury of giving Amendola more time to rest, but with home-field advantage on the line and a bye after the game, the Patriots and Amendola might be enticed to push the envelope this week.
Patrick Chung -- Starting safety injured his hip on Dec. 20 against Tennessee, which along with a pre-existing foot injury, kept him on the sidelines of Sunday's loss to the Jets. He doesn't appear to be far from a return.
Justin Coleman -- Rookie cornerback who has been No. 4 on the depth chart in recent weeks left Sunday's loss in the fourth quarter with a head injury. If it was diagnosed as a concussion, that would place him in the protocol this week and threaten his availability for the season finale.
Julian Edelman -- Receiver broke a bone in his left foot Nov. 15, returned to practice Dec. 11, and has been limited in his workload. Sunday would mark seven full weeks since the injury and subsequent surgery. For those comparing Edelman's projected timetable to that of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who had the same injury earlier this year, it is the same period of time that Bryant was out before returning (injured Sept. 13, returned Nov. 1).
Jonathan Freeny -- No. 3 linebacker has been out since dislocating his right thumb and part of his wrist on Dec. 13, as the area needs to stabilize before he's ready to return. The Patriots have saved his roster spot, hoping that he will be good to go by the playoffs.
Dont'a Hightower -- Starting linebacker acknowledged this week that he's "definitely not 100 percent" with a left knee injury, but felt like he was getting stronger in the second half of Sunday's loss. He should play Sunday in Miami, and if things keep progressing, he would return to his every-down role after being managed against the Jets.
Shaq Mason -- We'll see if the rookie left guard lands on the injury report, or if he was yanked at the end of Sunday's loss because of performance. Bill Belichick hinted it was the former earlier this week and the team's hand was forced.
Devin McCourty -- Starting safety has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain sustained Dec. 13. He's expected back for the playoffs, and perhaps even as early as this week depending on how things respond.
Rob Ninkovich -- Defensive end was hobbling noticeably after Sunday's loss to the Jets, as he appeared to injure his ankle while playing on the punt team. Ninkovich's status likely explains why the team signed linebacker Dekoda Watson on Tuesday, as Ninkovich might be unavailable for punt-team duty, if he's available at all.
Jordan Richards -- Rookie safety left Sunday's loss in overtime with an undisclosed injury and his status currently is a question mark.
Sebastian Vollmer -- Veteran offensive tackle was carted off in the first quarter Sunday against the Jets, with Pro Football Talk initially reporting he had a sprained ankle, and Comcast SportsNet and the Boston Herald following up after Vollmer's MRI and reporting that he is expected to miss the regular-season finale but be back for the playoffs.
LaAdrian Waddle -- Backup offensive tackle left Sunday's loss with a shoulder injury, but told reporters earlier this week that he was feeling good. Thus, it doesn't appear to be a major issue.