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Gronkowski returns to practice wearing knee brace

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to practice Thursday for the first time since sustaining a bone bruise and sprain in his right knee Nov. 29 against the Denver Broncos.

Gronkowski, who was a limited participant in practice Thursday, wore a protective sleeve/brace over his right knee, and reporters watched him go through warm-ups before being asked to leave, per team policy. At one point, as Gronkowski jogged from one sideline to the other with his teammates, coach Bill Belichick approached him and gave him a low-five.

New England, practicing in shorts/sweatpants and light shoulder pads, disclosed Gronkowski was limited in his return to practice, according to the team's participation report

Gronkowski missed Wednesday's full-pads practice, and he was held out of all practices last week, as well as Sunday's 35-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He injured the knee in the fourth quarter against Denver, and two days later, the club and Gronkowski's family released a joint statement on his status.

In the statement, the sides said, "There is no timetable for his readiness to return, which will be determined in the days or hours prior to the appropriate game."

When asked about Gronkowski, quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday: "He's a great player. I always wish we'd have everyone, whether it's Jules [Julian Edelman] or Gronk. Different guys are dealing with different things. It's part of football season. You still have to be mentally tough to overcome whatever adversity you face and try to win a game. It may take on a little different form."

In addition to Gronkowski, starting safety Patrick Chung returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's session. Edelman remains out.

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