NFL notes: Gronkowski returns to practice
Rob Gronkowski looked "almost Gronk-esque" on Sunday as he practiced in full pads for the first time since having back surgery.
The star tight end for the New England Patriots participated in drills with his teammates during the 15 minutes reporters were allowed to observe the start of practice.
Gronkowski isn't expected to play in the first few games but wasn't placed on the physically unable to perform list, a move that would have required him to miss at least the first six games of the season.
"He looked good," tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. "He looked almost Gronk-esque."
In his three NFL seasons, Gronkowski has been chosen for two Pro Bowls and caught 187 passes for 38 touchdowns despite missing the last five regular-season games last year.
He's had four operations this year, three on his broken left forearm and one on his back June 18. He had another forearm surgery last year after breaking it on Nov. 18 while blocking on an extra point against the Indianapolis Colts.
Gronkowski walked into the locker room with a smile Sunday and told reporters he would speak with them later in the week.
In other Patriots news, the team released running back-kick returner Leon Washington, who is tied with Josh Cribbs for the NFL record with eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns, Washington was signed as a free agent in March after three seasons with Seattle.
Around the league
Broncos • Denver claimed linebacker Adrian Robinson off waivers from Philadelphia and released fullback Jacob Hester. With All-Pro Von Miller serving a six-game suspension to start the season, the Broncos were thin at the position.
Browns • Cleveland terminated the contracts of running back Brandon Jackson and tight end Kellen Davis, two players expected to contribute in 2013. The Browns remain without a kicker after terminating veteran Shayne Graham's contract and cutting rookie Brandon Bogotay on Saturday. Coach Rod Chudzinski said the Browns will have a kicker within "the next few days."
Jets • New York bolstered its backfield by claiming running back Alex Green, who led Green Bay in rushing last season, off waivers from the Packers. With Mike Goodson serving a four-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Green will likely serve as a pass-catching running back in Goodson's absence behind Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.
Bills • Quarterback EJ Manuel returned to practice after missing two weeks because of a left knee injury. The Bills have remained hopeful that the first-round pick would return in time to start the team's season opener against New England.
Week 1 schedule
Baltimore at Denver, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Atlanta at New Orleans, 11 a.m.
Cincinnati at Chicago, 11 a.m.
New England at Buffalo, 11 a.m.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m.
Kansas City at Jacksonville, 11 a.m.
Seattle at Carolina, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
Miami at Cleveland, 11 a.m.
Minnesota at Detroit, 11 a.m.
Oakland at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
Green Bay at San Francisco, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
Arizona at St. Louis, 2:25 p.m.
N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Monday, Sept. 9 Games
Philadelphia at Washington, 5:10 p.m., ESPN
Houston at San Diego, 8:20 p.m., ESPN