TE Hoomanawanui lone absence

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second consecutive day, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who left Monday night's game with a knee injury, was the lone Patriot absent at the start of practice.

Hoomanawanui's absence led to increased reps for veteran Matthew Mulligan on Monday night and put the Patriots at just two healthy tight ends on the practice field.

Once again cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and safety Steve Gregory (thumb), who each missed Monday's game, were on the practice field Thursday, as were cornerbacks Aqib Talib (hip) and Kyle Arrington (groin). All four defensive backs were limited during Wednesday's practice.

The health of the secondary is a particularly critical aspect to monitor this week with the Denver Broncos coming to town, as they lead the league in offense at nearly 40 points per game, catalyzed by the best passing attack in the league.

Practice was held in shells and helmets.