According to Mike Rodak of ESPN Boston, all but one New England Patriots player was present and practicing on Tuesday. Rookie defensive end Justin Francis was the only player who wasn't participating when the media was allowed to watch the practice. Rodak also noted that fan-favorite and play-maker Rob Ninkovich was on the practice field again. This is a great sign with the team gearing up for a rematch in the Divisional Round against the Houston Texans.
Clearly the Bye-Week was exactly what the Patriots needed to get some players healthy and ready to go. Ninkovich is always a key factor for the Pats Defense and fans were distraught when he went down in week 17 with a hip injury. The Bye also gave TE Rob Gronkowski some more time to prepare himself after the broken forearm injury that he suffered against the Colts in week 11. Gronk played for the season finale against the Dolphins and even scored a touchdown, but some extra time for him to heal was ideal.
We'll see how well a healthier Patriots team kicks off the postseason (and maybe some rust) come Sunday afternoon.