Taylor could be closer to return

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back Fred Taylor was present at practice Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right ankle Oct. 8, a sign that he is closer to returning to action.

Taylor, who hurt the ankle on his final fourth-quarter carry against the Ravens on Oct. 4, has missed the team's last seven games. Figuring there was a chance he could return late in the season, the Patriots held his roster spot instead of placing him on season-ending injured reserve.

Taylor, who was listed as questionable Friday, is still unlikely to play this Sunday against the Dolphins in Miami, as it is commonplace for injured players to return on a Friday with the following week's game in mind.

Thus, barring a setback, the Dec. 13 home game against the Carolina Panthers seems like a more likely date for his possible return.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.