Hernandez returns to practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tight end Aaron Hernandez returned to practice today for the first time since injuring his ankle Sept. 16 against the Cardinals.

Hernandez, whose versatility makes the Patriots a tougher offense to defend, has missed the last two games and has six receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown on the year.

In addition to Hernandez, tight ends Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion) returned to practice.

The three players not in attendance were cornerback Ras-I Dowling, safety Steve Gregory and receiver Julian Edelman.

The Patriots practiced in light shoulder pads.