A fair amount of Patriots players will be leaving town this weekend to enjoy the team’s bye with friends and family.

But the week off isn’t a vacation for everybody.

New England’s coaching staff will be using the extra time to evaluate the 5-1 team and look ahead to games against the Steelers, Giants and Jets.

And Week 6 is especially key for players who started the season on the PUP list. Yesterday was the first time they were allowed to practice, and Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick took the field.


The team now has three weeks to determine their roster status. The Pats currently have two open spots.

“They’ve been working on their own to be ready to practice when they’re cleared to practice — running, lifting, changing directions, different strength, agility and speed drills,” coach Bill Belichick said yesterday.

Faulk, a Patriots lifer going into this 13th season, is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 of the 2010 season.

He’d provide a nice third or fourth choice at running back — and a reliable third-down option — since Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen have been dealing with injuries all season.

Meanwhile, it’s still far too early to determine if O-lineman Marcus Cannon is close enough to return this season while recovering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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