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Patriots running back Sony Michel returns to practice

The New England Patriots have one of their best players back.

Running back Sony Michel, who has been on the physically unable to perform list to begin training camp, is taking the practice field for New England's first day in full pads. It's an encouraging sign for the second-year running back after he underwent a knee scope in the spring and didn't partake in most of the Patriots' offseason program.

Michel will be tracked closely after breaking out in the team's Super Bowl run. He scored an NFL rookie postseason record six touchdowns, matching his regular season total, and gained 336 rushing yards over three games. That was on the heels of running for 931 yards on 4.4 yards per carry in Year 1. While he easily led the Patriots in rushing last season, he might face stiffer competition for carries in 2019.

The Patriots drafted Alabama product Damien Harris in the third round and still have James White, Rex Burkhead and James Develin on the roster. Few things are ever set in stone in New England, so Michel's early return is critical to his quest to avoid a sophomore slump and build on a promising first season.

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