FOXBORO — The Patriots practiced in shorts and shells on the wet upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium Thursday morning.

The highlight during the media availability was Rob Gronkowski catching a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in first team offensive drills with no defense.

Say this much for EJ Manuel, he has a fair amount of confidence going into his first NFL game and making his first NFL start.

Perhaps that comes from playing in the football crazy state of Florida during his college years and playing at Florida State under Jimbo Fisher, who himself replaced the legendary Bobby Bowden.

Manuel’s job is not nearly as daunting. He is not replacing Jim Kelly but rather Ryan Fitzpatrick.

FOXBORO — One of the more overplayed story lines of training camp was how Tom Brady was going to adjust to his new corps of rookie receivers and Danny Amendola – and vice versa.

Well, on Wednesday, Brady, in a light-hearted moment, admitted it’s taken some getting used to but he thinks he finally has a good analogy to use when trying to communicate with them – his three-year-old son Benjamin Brady.

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski (forearm) was officially listed as limited in practice in the first practice participation report of the season released Wednesday afternoon by the Patriots. Gronkowski took part in all drills before practice began during the media portion of availability. Wednesday marked the second time he practiced this week in pads. Danny Amendola was listed with a groin injury, the first official acknowledgment by the team of his injury.

It’s the start of a new season, and the new year brings fresh challenges for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. In Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Bills in Buffalo, Belichick will be facing someone in Doug Marrone who has zero experience as a head coach in the NFL.

FOXBORO — The question on everyone’s mind staking out the locker of Rob Gronkowski was fairly obviously. Is the perennial Pro Bowl tight end ready to play Sunday in the season opener if Bill Belichick activates him?

“Do I expect to play on Sunday? I’m preparing every single day to the max of my ability and preparing every day to best I can. When my number is called, that’s when I’ll play. I can’t tell you when that’ll be,” Gronkowski said.

According to a report in the Hartford Courant, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been identified on video as being at a Boston nightclub at the same time as two men who were later killed in a drive-by shooting in 2012.

The report credits multiple law enforcement sources as saying Hernandez is visible on a nightclub surveillance footage.

FOXBORO — Offensive lineman Will Svitek was the only player missing from full pads practice Wednesday morning on the upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium as the Patriots resumed preparations for their season opener Sunday in Buffalo.

Rob Gronkowski practiced again, working with the tight end group during the open availability to media at the start of practice. Gronkowski ran through agility drills and participated fully in blocking and catching drills.

The Bills are expected to name rookie EJ Manuel as their starting quarterback for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Patriots on Wednesday, according to several reports.

Manuel, a Florida State product taken in the first round of the 2013 draft, had minor knee surgery earlier this summer and has been out for the bulk of the preseason, but appears to be set to go for Buffalo. He’ll become the 13th first-round quarterback since the 2000 draft to start Kickoff Weekend

During the season premiere of “A Football Life” on the NFL Network, LaDainian Tomlinson admitted that “we all say things we regret.”

Tomlinson was referring to the fact that he called the Patriots a “classless” organization after the bitter playoff loss in 2006 when the Chargers had the game won, only to fumble an interception when Troy Brown knocked the ball out of the hands of Marlon McCree.