FOXBORO — The question was short and to the point to open a two-minute availability with Rob Gronkowski Thursday: Any chance of you playing Sunday against the Saints?

FOXBORO — Tommy Kelly and Leon Washington missed their second straight practice on Thursday while defensive end Michael Buchanan returned as the Patriots worked out in sweats and shells on the upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium. Linebacker Jamie Collins, who was not on Wednesday’s injury report, was not present either for the start of practice.

FOXBORO -- The Patriots return to Foxboro to meet the Saints Sunday afternoon, a game that presents a serious challenge to a New England team looking to get back on track after suffering its first loss of the season.

Prosecutors in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial suspect the worst when it comes to Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh. That much was made clear as Hernandez appeared in Bristol County Superior Court Wednesday.

Lead prosecutor and Bristol County Assistant D.A. William McCauley Wednesday filed a motion to remove Garsh, a judge he says has shown “antagonism” toward the government in the past.

FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley returned to practice on Wednesday and was among 11 Patriots listed as limited at the sweats and shells workout in Foxboro as the team begins preparations for the Saints Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Ridley missed all three practices last week with a knee injury, which kept him out of Sunday’s game against Cincinnati, the first game he’s missed due to injury in his three year career.

FOXBORO — The reports are that Rob Gronkowski will finally be cleared to play this week against the Saints and make his 2013 debut.

FOXBORO — The Patriots have added depth along the defensive line to help replace Vince Wilfork, signing former Panthers nose tackle Andre Neblett.

FOXBORO — Tommy Kelly, Leon Washington and Michael Buchanan were the three Patriots not present at the start of practice in sweats and shells Wednesday morning on the upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium.

Kelly left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter holding his right knee and limped off the field. Washington suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Devin McCourty in the kick return game.

Multiple outlets are now reporting that Rob Gronkowski should be cleared to play this week, and will be good to go when the Patriots meet the Saints at Gillette Stadium.

FOXBORO -- It’s an autumn tradition in New England, like fall foliage or a moving truck getting stuck on Storrow Drive on Sept. 1: No matter how talented the Patriots might appear on paper, they inevitably suffer some sort of letdown over the first half of the season, usually to an opponent who is sitting and watching New England in the playoffs come January.