FOXBORO - The bye week is usually helpful in getting injured players back on the field, and Patriots' safety Steve Gregory hopes that will be the case for him Sunday when the Buffalo Bills visit Gillette Stadium (1 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12).
"I'm real anxious," he said when asked if he thought he'd make it back to the field for the first time since suffering a hip injury early in the season. "It's not fun to sit on the couch and watch the guys out there playing."
Gregory hasn't seen the field since the first game against the Bills on Sept. 30.
"Any time you have an injury, time heals," he said. "The more time you have to heal, and the bye week coming in there to give me an extra week, the healing process was helped out."
The Patriots could use some veteran help in the secondary. The former San Diego Charger would relieve some of the pressure on Tavon Wilson and Devin McCourty, who have been the starting safeties with injuries to Gregory and Patrick Chung (shoulder).
"Vacation's over and it's time to get back to work," Gregory said. "I'm out there practicing right now and trying to definitely get back in the swing of things, so we'll see how it goes."
The charge for the secondary in general over the last eight weeks of the regular season has been made crystal clear by coach Bill Belichick, Gregory said.
"The biggest thing is just to grow from the mistakes that we've made," he said. "Just eliminate the big plays, that's No. 1. To be a successful secondary, you can't give up big plays in the passing game."
The bye week may have been refreshing for the Patriots, but you'd never have known it after a look at the first participation report of the week. Three players were held out of practice Wednesday, while 14 were listed as "limited" and another two were on the report despite practicing fully inside the Dana-Farber Field House.
Held out were running back Brandon Bolden (knee), defensive end Trevor Scott (hamstring) and linebacker Tracy White (foot).
The limited brigade was cornerback Kyle Arrington (concussion), defensive tackle Ron Brace (elbow), safeties Gregory (hip) and Patrick Chung (shoulder), tight ends Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), linebacker Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (knee), guard Logan Mankins (calf, hip), linebacker Jerod Mayo (elbow), offensive lineman Nick McDonald (shoulder), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back, knee) and wide receiver Wes Welker (ankle).
Wideout Julian Edelman (hand) and defensive tackle Kyle Love (knee) practiced fully.
Not to be outdone, the Bills listed 20 players on their participation report. Of most importance were the six non-practicers - defensive end Mark Anderson (knee), wide receiver Stevie Johnson (thigh), cornerback Terrence McGee (knee), offensive tackle Erik Pears (hip), cornerback Aaron Williams (knee) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (ankle).
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (chest), running back C.J. Spiller (shoulder) and defensive end Mario Williams (wrist, knee) were the largest luminaries among the 12-member "full participation" crew.