Mankins, Hightower present at practice; five missing

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Mankins, Hightower present at practice; five missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots held a shorts and shells session behind Gillette Stadium Wednesday afternoon.

Dont'a Hightower, who played just nine snaps against Buffalo before leaving the game with a hamstring injury, was on the field for Week 5's first practice. Logan Mankins is also back after being inactive last weekend against the Bills.

Newly absent: Steve Gregory. The safety limped off the field in Buffalo during the fourth quarter. His injury is unknown.

Rob Gronkowski was also missing during practice's media availability. He was on last week's injury report (hip) but played 68 of 77 offensive snaps Sunday.

Aaron Hernandez (ankle) and Julian Edelman (hand) were the last two unavailable. The pair missed every practice in Week 4, as well as game day.

A few players -- Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Matthew Slater -- were wearing the pink cleats that will be featured in Sunday's tilt against Denver. Patriots will don the gear this week and the next to promote breast cancer awareness.

Defensive back Malcolm Williams wore a black jersey Wednesday, given to those who best helped New England prepare during the previous week's practices.

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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