Patriots

Brady, Butler absent from indoor practice; Hogan returns

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Brady, Butler absent from indoor practice; Hogan returns

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had one starter return to practice, but several others were missing from their most recent session.

Tom Brady once again was not spotted at a Patriots practice occurring on a Wednesday. For the past few weeks, Brady has used Wednesday's to get treatment on a lingering Achilles injury. Malcolm Butler, Deatrich Wise, Kyle Van Noy and Marcus Cannon were also missing. Rob Gronkowski, who is suspended for Week 14, is not eligible to practice.

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Van Noy has been dealing with a calf issue that he seemed to aggravate Sunday against the Bills. To help provide some depth with Van Noy hurting, the Patriots signed linebacker Jonathan Freeny to the 53-man roster -- filling the spot vacated by Gronkowski this week -- and Freeny was present for the workout.

Marcus Cannon, meanwhile, has not practiced since leaving a Week 8 win over the Chargers with an ankle injury. 

Neither Butler nor Wise seemed to be dealing with anything physically at the end of the game Sunday in Orchard Park, New York. And if they are injured, we may not know for another 24 hours or more. Because the Patriots are playing on Monday night, they will not be required to release an injury report until Thursday. 

The Patriots did welcome one starter back Wednesday: receiver Chris Hogan. He hasn't practiced since injuring his shoulder in Week 8. Should he be able to return for Monday's game, he would give the Patriots another weapon in the passing game -- and an effective red-zone target -- with Gronkowski unavailable. 

The Patriots practiced inside the Empower Field House -- with the heaters blasting -- to help them get acclimated to the warmer temperatures in Miami they'll face early next week. 

Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

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Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

The Patriots have one of their top defenders back in action in Pittsburgh. 

Trey Flowers, who injured his ribs in Week 12 against the Dolphins, will be in uniform against the Steelers. The Patriots have been considerably thinned on the edge in recent weeks so having Flowers back -- both to rush the passer and set the edge against the run -- should be key for Bill Belichick's defense. 

Also in action for the Patriots are Stephon Gilmore (ankle), David Harris (ankle), Eric Lee (ankle), Matthew Slater (hamstring), LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and Deatrich Wise (foot). All came into the game listed as questionable but will be available. 

There are few surprises on the Patriots inactive list as Chris Hogan's status was reported earlier in the day by ESPN. We broke down how things could look without Hogan could look like right here

On the Steelers' end of things, their defense will be forced to go another week without Joe Haden, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered earlier this season. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed optimistic earlier this week that Haden could return, but instead he'll rely on corners Artie Burns, Cam Sutton and Coty Sensabaugh on the outside. 

With both Haden and linebacker Ryan Shazier unavailable, the Steelers are without two of their best matchup players, meaning their desire to play more man-to-man defense -- a desire they professed all the way back in the spring -- may not be in the offing. 

Meanwhile, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) will be in uniform, complicating the matchups for the Patriots secondary. Gilmore could spend time on Smith-Schuster or Martavis Bryant if he's not deployed on Antonio Brown. That would likely leave Eric Rowe -- whose size makes him a logical match for Smith-Schuster or Bryant -- on whoever's left.

The Patriots-Steelers inactive lists:

PATRIOTS
DL Alan Branch
OL Cole Croston
RB Mike Gillislee
DL Geneo Grissom
WR Chris Hogan
S Brandon King
LB Kyle Van Noy

STEELERS
QB Joshua Dobbs
DT Daniel McCullers
TE Vance McDonald
OT Matt Feiler
CB Joe Haden
\WR Justin Hunter
S J.J. Wilcox