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Spikes returns to practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes returned to a non-walkthrough practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a sprained MCL in his knee on Nov. 6 against the Giants.

While his status is still unclear for Sunday's game in Washington, Spikes' presence at the practice, which was held in light shoulder pads, signals that his return to game action could be near.

With Dane Fletcher practicing for a second straight week, Spikes' return brings the Patriots' linebacker corps back to full strength. Every defensive player was present for Thursday's practice.

Meanwhile, running back Stevan Ridley remained out of action, but tweeted that he was flying back to the region on Thursday after being home for a personal matter earlier this week.

Offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back/foot) also missed his second straight practice this week. The team will likely turn to Nate Solder in his place if Vollmer is unable to play on Sunday.