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Aaron Hernandez returns to Patriots practice

The New England Patriots' injury report for Thursday has been released, and surprisingly tight end Aaron Hernandez returned to the practice field, the Boston Herald is reporting. This was Hernandez's first practice since suffering a high ankle sprain in New England's Week 2 loss, 20-18, to the Arizona Cardinals. It was initially thought Hernandez would miss four to six weeks with the injury.

Unfortunately, Hernandez's return does not mean he will play in Sunday's contest at the Denver Broncos. Hernandez was seen limping after running drills in individual workouts but was able to stutter-step and plant his feet before turning for the ball. This is a good indication that Hernandez's road to recovery is nearing an end.

Also participating in practice was All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski (hip), who missed Wednesday's practice. Gronkowski was listed as questionable before last Sunday's blowout victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Meanwhile, those players that did not practice were: safety Steve Gregory (hip), wide receiver Julian Edelman (hand) and cornerback Ras-I Dowling.