FOXBORO -- Logan Mankins returned to Patriots practice in shorts and shells on the damp grass practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. It was the first practice for the starting left guard since Sept. 21. Mankins missed all of last week with a hip injury and did not travel with the team to Buffalo for Sunday's win over the Bills.
Also on hand for the start of practice was rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of Sunday's game.
Missing at the start of Wednesday's practice were Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Michael Hoomanawanui, Steve Gregory and Julian Edelman.
Gronkowski suffered a hip injury late last week but played. He also spoke on Wednesday to reporters, a sign that the injury likely is not significant. The Patriots began their practice routine in advance of Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.