Spikes not spotted at practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Starting linebacker Brandon Spikes, who has dealt with a knee issue in recent weeks, was among three Patriots not spotted at the start of practice on Wednesday.

Spikes finished Sunday's game against the Texans, but the knee did appear to be impacting him during the course of the 34-31 win.

Rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who left the team's Week 12 win against the Broncos and missed all of last week's practice (foot), was also absent, as was starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, who similarly left the Week 12 game with an ankle issue and did not practice last week.

Tight end Michael Hoomanwanui, who left the team's Week 11 game against the Panthers and had not practiced since that time, returned to the practice field on Wednesday. The team recently signed D.J. Williams to provide depth at the position.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) was on the practice field after missing Week 14. The media-access period extended through just stretching and individual drills, so it was difficult to assess how he is progressing in his recovery.

Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was banged up on Sunday with a hip injury, took just limited reps during a ball-security drill and appears to still be recovering.

Also during that drill, running backs Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen used noticeably worn-down (and possibly wet) footballs. Ridley was inactive in Week 13 after fumbling in three straight games.

The practice was conducted in shells and helmets.