Aaron Hernandez among Patriots scratches

The New England Patriots will be shorthanded Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

On Christmas night they announced six players wouldn't dress against the Buffalo Bills because of injuries.

Most notable is rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is battling a hip problem. Hernandez had two touchdown receptions last week against the Green Bay Packers.

His absence could mean a big day for rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski in his homecoming. Gronkowski is from suburban Buffalo.

Also out are right guard Dan Connolly (concussion), outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham (calf) and defensive linemen Mike Wright (concussion), Myron Pryor (back) and Brandon Deaderick (shoulder). All have started this year.

Connolly, who made highlight reels with his 71-yard kickoff return last week, has been one of New England's most valuable depth players. He has started 13 games, filling in at left guard until Logan Mankins ended his contract dispute and then at right guard when Stephen Neal suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Ryan Wendell or Quinn Ojinnaka will replace Connolly at right guard.

Cunningham has started 11 of the Patriots past 12 games.

Wright, Deaderick and Pryor have combined for 11 starts.