Wes Welker returns, but is limited

FOXBOROUGH — After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who injured his ankle in last Sunday’s victory over the Bills, took part in Friday’s workout at Gillette Stadium.

He did so, however, in a limited capacity.

While it was encouraging that Welker got back on the field before Sunday’s home game against the Colts, his status remained a concern, as he was listed as questionable along with 15 other Patriots.


“I don’t know if anybody’s 100 percent at this point of the season,’’ Welker said. “I don’t know where I’m at. I’m just looking forward to getting better and trying to contribute on Sunday.’’

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Also questionable is tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is expected to miss Sunday’s game, according to the NFL Network.

Hernandez, who injured his ankle in Week 2 and returned to play in Weeks 6 and 7 against the Seahawks and Jets, has been inactive the last two games. He took part in all three practices this week, but was limited.

Guard Dan Connolly, who injured his back against the Bills and missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, also returned Friday in a limited capacity and is questionable. Guard Logan Mankins (ankle/calf), who missed all three practices this week, was the only Patriot listed as doubtful.

Cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) were listed as out by the Colts.


Welker, though, would not shed any light on his status. The only thing he knew was how it felt to return to practice.

“It’s nice to get out there and get some reps and hopefully be ready for the game,’’ he said.

Pay up

The Patriots discovered the price for their physical play against the Bills. On Friday, the NFL levied $42,875 in fines on three Patriots, linebacker Brandon Spikes drawing the biggest hit ($25,000).

Linebacker Jerod Mayo was fined $10,000 for his hit out of bounds on C.J. Spiller that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty, while rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was fined $7,875 for a similar infraction.

Spikes was docked for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick. After having his headgear knocked off, Fitzpatrick immediately got up, went at Spikes, and had to be pulled away. After the game, Fitzpatrick said, “I think he’s a punk at times. Not one of my favorite players. Not high on my list.’’


On Thursday, Spikes said, “Everybody has their opinion, and they can say what they want, but I’m just doing my job.’’

It marked the second time this season Spikes had been fined for his rough play against the Bills. The league fined him $21,000 for a blindside hit on tight end Scott Chandler during an interception return in the first meeting.

“It takes a little bit of my aggression away,” Spikes said Thursday, asked if he expected to hear from the league. “It’s definitely discouraging, but that’s how I play. I’m physical.’’

Pagano visits Colts

The Colts got an inspirational visit from ailing coach Chuck Pagano on Friday.

Pagano ‘‘broke his team down’’ during practice, interim coach Bruce Arians said. ‘‘It was a beautiful moment . . . He came and enjoyed a good bunch of sunshine and talked to the guys and it was another beautiful day.’’

Dozens of Indianapolis players have shaved their heads in a show of support for Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia. Orange, a color used to raise awareness of the disease, is everywhere at the Colts’ complex and “Chuckstrong’’ has become a common catchphrase.

Earlier this month, Pagano’s physician said the coach was in ‘‘complete remission,’’ but still faced two more rounds of chemotherapy. The Colts hope to have Pagano back on the sideline Dec. 30, Indianapolis’s regular-season finale against Houston.

‘‘That’s the date,’’ Arians said Friday. ‘‘The way he’s going right now, it’s going good.’’

Receiver Reggie Wayne said the visit from Pagano was welcome.

‘‘It caught everybody by surprise,’’ he said. ‘‘That was a great finishing to a great day of practice. Whenever he is able to address the team, give us a little words of wisdom, it’s always a great feeling.’’

Best foot

While it’s been seven years since Adam Vinatieri last played for New England, Patriots coach Bill Belichick lauded the Colt as “one of the greatest kickers since I’ve been in the league’’ when asked if Vinatieri had Hall of Fame credentials.

“The longevity, the production, the performance in championships and big games? What more could he do?” Belichick said. “Go out there and play wide receiver and catch a bunch of passes? Is that what he needs to do? I don’t know.”

But in praising Vinatieri for his body of work, which included 18 game-winning kicks during his time in New England from 1996-2005, Belichick was also quick to praise his own kicker, Stephen Gostkowski.

“He doesn’t get too up, too down,” Belichick said. “He’s made a lot of big kicks for us. Kicked well, not perfect, but he hasn’t been too high on the highs or too low on the lows. He’s been very consistent with his work ethic, his discipline, his ability to adapt to different snappers, holders over the course of his career.

“That’s something you can’t control as a kicker, but you have to work with. He’s done a good job of that and hasn’t let it affect him, what he can control, which is his preparation and performance.’’

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Michael Vega can be reached at