FOXBORO -- For the second straight day, Brandon Spikes and Sebastian Vollmer were the only Patriots missing at practice as the team wrapped up preparations for the Dolphins Saturday at Gillette Stadium with their weekly day-before-game walkthrough. The team listed Vollmer as doubtful, while Spikes and 14 others - including Patrick Chung - were questionable. 

NFL analyst Michael Lombardi, in his weekly interview on the Dennis & Callahan Show, suggested that he couldn't see an AFC team other than the Patriots or Steelers advancing to the Super Bowl. Lombardi suggested that the two teams feature an offensive explosiveness that no other team can match in the conference.

FOXBORO – Don’t worry, Patriots fans -- the defense won’t matter. I’m here to tell you that the team has learned from the last two years and the playoff losses to the Ravens and Jets.



Here are the 10 matchups we’ll be looking for in Saturday’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins:


FOXBORO -- Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and new safety Vincent Fuller were among those limited on Thursday, in the team's final full practice as they prepare for the Dolphins Saturday afternoon. Aaron Hernandez returned to full participation Thursday after missing Wednesday with a non-injury related matter and was removed from the injury report. Linebacker Brandon Spikes missed Thursday as the team continues to monitor his right knee.

Danny Woodhead (abdomen) and Ryan Wendell (calf) were also completely removed from the injury report for the first time in several weeks.

FOXBORO -- On an ideal December day at Gillette Stadium, tight end Aaron Hernandez and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis returned to practice on Thursday as the team continues preparations for the Dolphins Saturday afternoon in Foxboro. Hernandez missed Wednesday's practice with a non-injury related matter while Green-Ellis was execused due to an illness. 

The team practice in sweats and shells on the main stadium field. 

FOXBORO -- In the midst of a record-setting season, the box score will cause you to do a double take.

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had three players miss Wednesday's practice, but the team announced Wednesday afternoon that tight end Aaron Hernandez' absence was not injury related. Here's the complete report:

Did Not Practice
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness)
TE Aaron Hernandez (not injury related)
OT Sebastian Vollmer (back/foot)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (foot)
WR Deion Branch (groin)
S Patrick Chung (foot)
C Dan Connolly (groin)
WR Julian Edelman (back)

FOXBORO -- Five Patriots finished first at their positions in Pro Bowl fan balloting, it was revealed on Wednesday. Quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, guard Logan Mankins and defensive end Andre Carter were the top vote-getters at their positions.

FOXBORO -- The Patriots filled one of their two roster vacancies on Wednesday when they announced the signing of veteran safety Vincent Fuller.