There was a mix of good and bad news regarding injuries. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (hip) was not on the field at the start of today's session, nor were fellow tight ends Aaron Hernandez (right ankle) and Michael Hoomanawanui. It's unclear what "Uh-oh's" condition is, but he did leave the Buffalo game late in the fourth quarter.
Safety Steve Gregory also appeared to get banged up in Buffalo and was not present at the start of practice. He did make a brief appearance in the locker room, however. Wide receiver Julian Edelman (left hand) remains among the missing as well.
Encouraging signs could be found, too, as left guard Logan Mankins (hip) returned to the field after missing all of last week, including the Bills game. Defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick (ankle) also was back in action, and after missing nearly all of the Bills game with a left hamstring problem, rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower suited up and began practice today.
Hernandez made a cameo in the Patriots locker room before practice. He was walking rather briskly, following a workout, and had a black sleeve/wrap around his right ankle. He looked much better than the last time we'd seen him.
Hightower, meantime, also popped in a few times, but declined interviews, saying he might be available on Friday for the media.
Veteran linebacker Bobby Carpenter has been re-signed, likely as an insurance policy for Hightower. The team also re-signed second-year tight end Alex Silvestro to the practice squad, probably because of all the injuries at that position. Carpenter is wearing his old 59 jersey; Silvestro is back in 49.
The corresponding moves to make room for Carpenter and Silvestro were as follows: defensive lineman Terrell McClain, who signed only a week ago, was released from the 53-man roster, as was practice squad offensive lineman Thomas Austin.
QB Tom Brady was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week following his 340-yd, 4-TD, rushing TD performance in Buffalo. This is the 21st time Brady has earned these honors, tying the NFL record held by this week's opponent, Peyton Manning.
Brady was asked today about having to face his old center, Dan Koppen, who's now starting for Denver and snapping to Manning. "He's one of my best pals, so I'm happy he's got the opportunity," Brady replied. "We've had a lot of battles together and I miss having him around here, but that's part of this business. He moved on and he's got an opportunity and hopefully we play well against him."
It's no secret that New England's offense has had success this year with two-tight end formations, which have helped the running game flourish in both victories. Gronkowski has been a huge part of that, and he commented on the balance the Patriots have shown offensively in the first quarter of the season. "You always want to be able to run the ball. That's what sets up the play-action, the passing game," he explained. "And you always want to be able to pass – it helps out the running game. You always want to have a balanced attack to keep the defense guessing… I'm trying to improve on my run-blocking and my passing abilities."
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer picked up on that point. "Obviously, we're trying to do our job every week. Sometimes we rush for a lot of yards, sometimes we don't. The goal is to have a balanced attack every week. See how it goes this week."
The black jerseys returned this week, because the team won its last game. Actually, there was just one that we saw, and it was on practice squad defensive back Malcolm Williams. Normally, there are at least three or four honorees, sometimes as many as six.
The full injury report will be updated here on the blog during the 4 o'clock hour.
UPDATE… 4:38 PM
Sixteen Patriots made this Wednesday's injury report. For the second Wednesday in a row, Brady (right shoulder) was added to New England's injury report. He was limited in today's practice. We'll see if he comes off the report tomorrow, as was the case last Thursday.
Gregory was also added with what we now know is a hip issue. He did not practice at all, nor did Edelman, Hernandez, Gronk, and Hoomanawanui, who suffered a concussion in Buffalo.
Mankins also now has a calf injury to go with his hip. He was limited today as well. Meanwhile, rookies Brandon Bolden (knee) and Hightower were added with their respective injuries.
Several other players were limited, as they had been last week: DL Brandon Deaderick (ankle), rookie DL Justin Francis (ankle), OL Nick McDonald (right shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), RB Shane Vereen (left foot), and RT Sebastian Vollmer (back). Defensive tackle Kyle Love (knee) was upgraded to full participation after being limited all last week. He played against Buffalo.
Rookie corner Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) has been removed from the injury report.
Out in Denver, only five players were listed: starting right guard Chris Kuper (forearm) was limited, along with backup linebacker Nate Irving (concussion). Starting right corner Tracy Porter (shoulder) practiced in full, as did backup corner Chris Harris (ankle) and backup receiver Matt Willis (hamstring).