- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Welcome to Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots will host the Denver Broncos in the 13th career matchup between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (4:25 p.m., CBS).
Rain in the forecast. While skies are cloudy at the moment, rain is expected to move into the area by the early afternoon. According to Weather.com, temperatures are expected to be in the low-50s, with showers lingering throughout the game. Winds are relatively light, out of northwest at 5-7 mph. As of 12:30 p.m., a green tarp still covers the game field.
Eyes on Hernandez, Gronkowski. Both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are questionable for today's game for the Patriots. Both players were limited in practice on Thursday and Friday, after not practicing on Wednesday. Last week, Gronkowski sat a series in each half, and is listed on the team's injury report with a hip ailment. His injury remains something to watch, while the possibility still remains that Hernandez plays this afternoon.
Five more inactives. The Patriots have already declared receiver Julian Edelman (hand) and safety Steve Gregory (hip) as out for the game, meaning they will have to declare five more inactives. There are 12 players questionable, including rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who called himself a "game-time decision" for today. Inactives will be announced around 2:55 p.m. With Gregory out, rookie Tavon Wilson could earn his first career start at safety.
Steratore gets the call. With regular officials now back in the fold for a second week, Gene Steratore is the referee for today's game. He also officiated the last Patriots-Broncos matchup, in the Divisional Playoffs last January. There were a total of seven penalties called in that game; two were against the Patriots.
Four scouts in the house. There are scouts from the Patriots' next two opponents, the Seahawks and Jets, in the press box. The Jets are getting an early jump on their divisional rival. There are also scouts from the Chargers and Saints, the Broncos' next two opponents (the Saints have a bye week next week).
Brady on GameDay cover. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is on the cover of the GameDay magazine. Brady is one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 300 or more touchdown passes. Two others, Manning and Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, are also in the stadium today.
Anthem and color guard. The national anthem will be performed by Cobi Mike from the Boston-based musical act Gentlemen Hall, while the color guard is from the Cranston, R.I. police department.
Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Players and coaches will wear pink apparel today, and the Patriots Charitable Foundation is hosting 24 breast cancer survivors for team introductions as part of a week-long "Celebrate Volunteerism" focus on healthcare and breast cancer awareness. This ties in to the NFL's and the American Cancer Society’s "A Crucial Catch" campaign. Breast cancer survivors participating in the on-field ceremony include Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love mother-in-law, Wanda Walker.