Rob Gronkowski returns to practice with Patriots
FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots got a few players back to practice Thursday, and Rob Gronkowski was one of them.
The tight end, who missed last Sunday’s game in Chicago and Wednesday’s practice with a back injury, was present and participated in positional drills during the initial part of practice. Gronkowski’s work included some blocking drills, in which he’d engage with a pad held by teammate Jacob Hollister. He was listed as limited on Thursday’s injury report.
Gronkowski also has an ankle injury, but had been playing through it. A league source told the Globe that Gronkowski has “a shot” to play Monday night in Buffalo, where he grew up.
Right tackle Marcus Cannon (concussion) and defensive ends Deatrich Wise (ankle/knee) were also back after missing Wednesday’s practice. They were limited participants, according to the injury report, as were left tackle Trent Brown (ankle), receiver Josh Gordon (hamstring), defensive lineman Geneo Grissom (ankle), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee), tight end Hollister (hamstring) and defensive end John Simon (shoulder). Brown and Hightower were new additions to the injury report.
Running back Sony Michel (knee), cornerback Eric Rowe (groin), and offensive lineman Brian Schwenke (foot), who wasn’t previously on the injury report, were missing from the practice in full pads on a sunny fall day.
Cornerback Duke Dawson, who is on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury but returned to practice Wednesday, was present yet again.
McCoy on mend
Bills running back LeSean McCoy returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday as he makes his way back from a concussion.
McCoy suffered the injury early in Buffalo’s 37-5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. On Buffalo’s second play from scrimmage, McCoy landed on his head as he was taken down by Kenny Moore II. McCoy did not return.
It’s been a down year for McCoy and the Bills offense. Through seven weeks, McCoy has just 244 rushing yards and no touchdowns. He ran for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Buffalo (2-5) hosts New England (5-2) on Monday night.
Fans will be ready
Buffalo is usually a rowdy place to play and, even though the Bills are struggling, the Patriots don’t expect anything less than a top effort from Bills Mafia on Monday night.
“They’ll be giving us the middle fingers as soon as we get in town,” Devin McCourty said. “Like most teams, it’s when you pull in the stadium. There it’s as soon as you get within a couple miles of the stadium, like they’ll be ready to go.”
Speaking of ex-Pats
Bills coach Sean McDermott didn’t seem to think much of the idea that having offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, an alum of the Patriots coaching staff, helping him prepare for the Patriots was a big advantage.
“I think people sometimes get carried away with things like that. Brian’s [Daboll] certainly a good coach, but overall, I think sometimes that’s probably overblown,” McDermott said via conference call Thursday.
McDermott also spoke of rookie punter Corey Bojorquez, the lefty who was something of a mystery in Patriots training camp and preseason, where he showcased a big leg but was never given the opportunity to punt in a game. The Patriots might have wanted to keep Bojorquez on the practice squad, but didn’t have the opportunity to because the Bills picked him up.
“Yeah, well, we didn’t really have that option,” Belichick said Wednesday. “He was claimed.”
McDermott said that his scouting staff was comfortable picking up Bojorquez based on what they knew of him from college. Bojorquez has punted 40 times this season with an average of 45.8 yards per punt and a long of 60.
“Our guys did their research and felt like it was an opportunity for us to get a young player that they had scouted and [were] really interested in college, during his time in college,” McDermott said. “We had a need and Corey was there.”