It wasn't much, but it was something!
Two key Patriots offensive players hit the practice field on Wednesday while still nursing injuries: quarterback Mac Jones (ankle) and rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton (clavicle).
Jones participated in warmup drills with fellow quarterbacks Bailey Zappe and Garrett Gilbert -- Brian Hoyer (concussion) was not present -- unlike last Friday's rather stationary practice. But the second-year quarterback is still clearly nursing his ankle sprain, hopping off his back foot at times to keep weight off his leg during simulated drop-backs and noticeably limping whenever he had to walk.
Still, him doing anything more than standing in one spot and playing catch with Joe Judge is progress, which Bill Belichick alluded to before practice.
Thornton, meanwhile, arrived in a red non-contact jersey and did participate in receiver drills with the rest of the position group. His return to practice ostensibly starts his 21-day clock to come off of injured reserve and back onto the active roster; if he does not return by then, he must sit out the remainder of the season.
Neither Jones nor Thornton look like they have much chance of playing this week, but seeing them back at practice and doing football activities in some fashion is a positive.
Hoyer's absence and Jones' injury suggests Bailey Zappe is indeed the most likely candidate to start for the Patriots on Sunday with Gilbert as his backup, though the veteran Gilbert's presence might shroud that decision at least partly in mystery.
Also notable on Wednesday: the Patriots got Lawrence Guy back, which is potentially a big boost for the team's run defense against a Lions team averaging 5.9 yards per carry on the ground, and newly signed linebacker Jamie Collins also practiced.