While the New England Patriots decided against making a move before toady's 4 pm trade deadline, they did get a boost in the form of returning players.

Both defensive tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Dane Fletcher, who were placed on the physically unable to perform list prior to the season, returned to practice for the first time today. 

The team will now have a 21 day window, just like they did with Brandon LaFell, to determine whether the two players will be activated to the 53-man roster or kept out for the season.

Jones is in his third year with New England, after being picked up off waivers in 2013. In two seasons, he's played 28 regular season games, making 23 starts. He's put together quality numbers as a member of the team's interior rotation, making 79 tackles and nine sacks over the last couple of seasons. If activated, Jones would be joining a line with more depth than past years.

Fletcher, who is back with the Patriots after spending the 2014 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had entered the league in 2010 as an rookie free agent with the Patriots. In 54 regular season games he's made 120 total tackles, in a largely backup and special teams type role. Fletcher was brought back to New England this off season to help provide depth at the linebacker position and while his injury has slowed the impact, he could help provide late season depth and an opportunity for the coaching staff to rest starters Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower down the stretch, in preparation for the playoffs.

While neither Jones nor Fletcher present potential depth in the defensive secondary, where New England appears to be most vulnerable right now, their were a few other options on the field today as well.

After being picked up on the waiver wire just before last week's game against Miami, safety Dewey McDonald was also present for the Patriots at practice today.

McDonald, a former Indianapolis Colt, is in just his second year in the league and has played in just 13 games, making 11 total tackles.

He'll look to add depth to the secondary and potentially to special teams as well.

The team also trotted out two new practice squad players today; defensive backs Ross Ventrone and Floyd Raven. Ventrone, whose brother Ray is a special teams coach with the Patriots was originally signed by the team as a rookie free agent in 2011 and has bounced around since then. Raven is a rookie out of Texas A&M, who has not yet played a game in the league.

Both players will get the chance to prove their worth on the practice squad and potentially crack the active roster if injuries, cuts or poor play become a factor.