FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Running back Fred Taylor of the New England Patriots hopes to play Sunday night after missing five games with two painful toes.

He might be better off waiting a week instead of facing the NFL’s stingiest run defense.

Some of the league’s best rushers have tried to overpower and avoid the Pittsburgh Steelers’ experienced defenders, only to look ordinary. Now New England’s mediocre running game gets its chance.

“I understand this team. I know them really well,” Taylor said. “It’s the same guys (with few exceptions). The personnel doesn’t change. If the opportunity is there, I’d love it.”

He returned to practice Wednesday and was there again Thursday, both with limited participation. The toe injuries on each foot have improved and the Patriots will announce his status for Sunday’s game today. 

BROWNS: Linebacker Marcus Benard was released from a hospital after collapsing in the locker room. Benard was sitting in a chair in front of his cubicle when he suddenly fell. No reason was announced.

DOLPHINS: Safety Chris Clemons (groin injury) and tight end Anthony Fasano (chest injury) returned to practice on a limited basis. 

VIKINGS: Jenn Sterger, the former Jets employee who allegedly received lewd photos and inappropriate text messages from Brett Favre, met with NFL investigators, her manager said.

Receiver Percy Harvin missed practice for a second straight day because of a migraine headache. 

BENGALS: Right tackle Andre Smith has a broken foot that could end his season, the latest setback in his star-crossed career.

Quarterback Carson Palmer returned to practice on a limited basis, going easy on his sore passing shoulder. 

BILLS: Linebacker Shawne Merriman is out indefinitely after aggravating an injury to his right Achilles’ tendon in his first practice with his new team. 

PANTHERS: Linebacker Jon Beason called his $10,000 fine for a hit to the head of New Orleans receiver Marques Colston unwarranted and plans to appeal. 

RAMS: Tackle Rodger Saffold was held out of practice because of a bruised left shoulder. 

GIANTS: Receiver Steve Smith left practice after hurting a pectoral muscle. 

EAGLES: Free safety Nate Allen and right guard Max Jean-Gilles didn’t practice and might not play Monday night when Philadelphia visits Washington. 

RAVENS: Baltimore County police won’t discipline an officer who got an autograph from running back Ray Rice after warning him about the tint on his vehicle’s windshield. 

THE PLAYERS union rejected a proposal from the NFL on long-term care for former players, saying it would exclude too many of them.