jonathan wiggs/globe staff
FOXBOROUGH — Defensive tackle Alan Branch (knee) and running back Rex Burkhead (knee) returned to practice Wednesday as the Patriots held one of their two bye-week sessions inside Gillette Stadium. Neither played Sunday against the Jets.
Running back Mike Gillislee and defensive end Eric Lee were not spotted at the beginning of the session. Gillislee (knee) did not practice at all last week and did not play in the Week 17 game against the Jets. Lee (ankle/finger) did not practice last Friday but played Sunday.
The Patriots practiced on the game field, as they did last week, though temperatures were far warmer than they were last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Quarterback Tom Brady was on hand, as was tight end Rob Gronkowski. Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who returned to practice last week but wasn’t activated off injured reserve in time for the Jets game, was still practicing. The Patriots have until the week the AFC Championship game would be held to activate him before he reverts to injured reserve for good.
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