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Patriots practice update: Dont’a Hightower and Danny Amendola return, Rob Gronkowski active

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The Patriots are closer to full strength.

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots held a rainy practice, but there was no doom and gloom. In fact there should be nothing but sunshine for fans based on the attendance. According to multiple reports, TE Rob Gronkowski (groin) was present, while LB Dont’a Hightower (MCL) returned to the field.

And that’s not the only good news. WR Chris Hogan (knee), WR Phillip Dorsett (knee), and WR Danny Amendola (knee, concussion) were all at practice, a great sign for their availability on Sunday against the Houston Texans. CB Eric Rowe (groin), DT Vincent Valentine (knee), and ST Matthew Slater (hamstring) were all present, too.

Hopefully all of these players will be back at full strength and ready to play.

RT Marcus Cannon (ankle) and RB Rex Burkhead (ribs) were not present and Cannon’s availability is worth monitoring because he’ll have to face J.J. Watt on Sunday.

The Patriots also had two new players wearing #22 and #72 at practice. DB Jomal Wiltz appears to no longer be with the team, per NESN’s Zack Cox. #22 is likely CB Robert Nelson, who went undrafted out of Arizona State in 2014 and spent time with the Browns, Cardinals, and Texans over the past three seasons.

EDIT: Apparently Gronkowski did not practice according to the official injury report, but reporters on the scene saw him going through drills with Dwayne Allen. Here’s the injury report: