Aaron Hernandez back at practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez returned to practice Thursday 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.

All three players were limited, as was quarterback Tom Brady, according to the team's official participation report.

The three players not in attendance were cornerback Ras-I Dowling, safety Steve Gregory and receiver Julian Edelman Dowling's absence was not injury related, according to the report.