Veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who on Sept. 5 was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return, was back at practice for the Patriots on Tuesday, the team confirmed.
Under the designation, Shiancoe was eligible to return to practice after Week 6 and is eligible to begin playing in games after Week 8. If the team does not activate Shiancoe to the 53-man roster within 21 days, he must remain on injured reserve for the balance of the season.
The nature of Shiancoe's injury is unknown, but the fact that he returned to the practice field suggests he is inching closer to becoming healthy. He was spotted walking out to the team's Tuesday walk-through.
The Patriots currently have four tight ends on their active roster. Additionally, Jake Ballard, who was claimed off of waivers this past offseason, remains on the PUP list.
Also on Tuesday, free agent linebacker Mike Rivera was in for a workout, according to a league source. He was spotted in the team's locker room during the media availability period earlier in the day.
Rivera, 26, was signed by the Patriots to their practice squad in 2011 and made the team's final roster coming out of training camp this season. He was active for each of the team's first two games, playing in a special teams role before being waived. He later was signed by the Miami Dolphins, playing in one game before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. He eventually negotiated a settlement with the team, making him a free agent.