Patriots' utility man Pass returning to practice

New England Patriots running back Patrick Pass, relegated to the physically unable to perform list for the first half of the season because of a foot injury, will return to practice this week.

Pass, 28, is a seven-year veteran whose versatility is highly regarded by the New England coaching staff. Despite the success of the Patriots in the first half of the season, Pass' all-around play was missed. If he is able to return from the foot injury that has sidelined him since training camp this summer, Pass will be a much-welcomed addition for the second half of the campaign.

This is the final week in which franchises can have players who have been on the PUP list return to practice. Once a player begins practicing, the team has a three-week window in which to evaluate him. At the end of those three weeks, a team must either add the player to the active roster or keep him on the physically unable to perform list for the balance of the season.

A player can be activated at any time during the three-week evaluation period.

Pass, a former University of Georgia standout taken in the seventh-round of the 2000 draft, has appeared in 75 games and started 11 contests during his NFL tenure. He has played tailback, fullback, lined up as a wide receiver in the slot, returned kickoffs and played on the kick coverage teams. His size (5-feet-10, 217) gives the Patriots a tough, inside runner in short-yardage situations and he is also a very good blocker.

Pass has carried 122 times for 505 yards and three touchdowns and has 64 receptions for 546 yards and one score. He has returned 36 kickoffs for a 20.7-yard average and has nearly 40 special teams tackles.

In other Patriots' roster news, the team claimed third-year veteran safety Rashad Baker on waivers and released cornerback Antwain Spann from the active roster and guard Dan Stevenson from the practice squad.

Baker, who was released by the Minnesota Vikings early this week, has appeared in 29 games with Buffalo (2004-2005) and Minnesota (2006), and has three career starts. He has 53 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.