Mankins, Hightower on practice field

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins returned to practice on Wednesday, his first time on the field since the team's Week 3 loss in Baltimore.

Mankins did not practice last week and did not travel with the team to Buffalo on Sunday. He was listed as having a hip injury.

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who left Sunday's game in Buffalo with a hamstring injury and did not return, was also on the field for the start of Wednesday's practice, which was held in light shoulder pads (shells).

Tight end Rob Gronkowski was not spotted for the start of Wednesday's session. He was added to Friday's injury report with a hip injury but played in Sunday's win over the Bills. Gronkowski spoke to reporters earlier Wednesday, a possible indication his injury is not serious.

The Patriots were also without safety Steve Gregory and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui at Wednesday's practice. Both left late in Sunday's game with an undisclosed injuries and did not return.

With tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) and receiver Julian Edelman (hand) also not spotted on Wednesday, the Patriots were down to Daniel Fells and Alex Silvestro as the only tight ends on the practice field. Silvestro was signed to the practice squad earlier Wednesday.

Hernandez was spotted in the locker room on Wednesday morning, walking briskly but wearing a small basketball-style brace over his right ankle. He has been out of action since injuring his ankle in Week 2 against Arizona.