FOXBORO -- Tom Brady, Rob Ninkovich and Dont'a Hightower all returned to practice Thursday in the frigid conditions outside Gillette Stadium as the Patriots held their final practice before taking a three-day break for the bye weekend. The team had full attendance for the practice.
Ninkovich's return was most notable since he missed practice Wednesday after injuring his left hip in the second quarter of Sunday's win over the Dolphins. Hightower is nursing a shoulder injury while Brady missed Wednesday but did not suffer any apparent injury in the season finale.
The status of all three players during practice won't be announced as the team is not required to declare an injury report until 72 hours before its first playoff game, which will come on Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium against the Texans, Colts or Ravens.
The team practiced outside on the lower grass practice field in 19 degree temperatures in sweats and shells. During the media availability during practice, the team worked on ball security with players running side-by-side trying to cause a fumble on the ball carrier. Stevan Ridley was the only player spotted with a ball in each hand as he was defended by Aqib Talib and Patrick Chung.
For more, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots .