FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater has joined his teammates for Thursday morning's practice in full pads, an indication that he is coming off the active/physically-unable-to-perform list. This marks Slater's first practice of the year; he also was held out of all 13 spring organized team activities and minicamp practices due to an undisclosed ailment.
A Pro Bowler in each of the past three years, Slater is widely regarded as one of the NFL's best special-teamers. The seven-year veteran has also been elected a team captain in each of the past three years.
The return of the 6-foot, 210-pound Slater, who is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, was the most notable personnel-related development at Patriots training camp.
A few other notes:
Second-year receiver Josh Boyce, who missed Wednesday's practice, has returned Thursday. Boyce has been working as one of the club's kickoff returners. At receiver, he appears to clearly be behind Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
Linebacker Chris White, a core special-teamer, has returned to practice after missing Wednesday's session.
Undrafted linebacker Cameron Gordon of Michigan is not present at practice for the first time in camp.
Rookie center Bryan Stork, the fourth-round pick from Florida State who was expected to compete for a starting job, remains out after appearing to sustain a lower-leg injury on Tuesday. Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Braxston Cave figure to rotate at the center spot, which was one of the top competitions to monitor entering camp.