Rob Gronkowski Misses Practice, While Tom Brady Makes Rare Bye Week Appearance

FOXBORO, Mass. — Tight end Rob Gronkowski was the only member of the Patriots' active roster to miss Thursday's practice, which was the team's first in preparation for Super Bowl XLVI.

Gronkowski suffered a left ankle injury during Sunday's AFC Championship, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced before practice Thursday that Gronkowski wouldn't participate. This was just the second time the Patriots have taken the field without Gronkowski all season (Aug. 9). He was listed as out Wednesday, but the Patriots didn't technically practice.

Quarterback Tom Brady was present for the first time all season during a bye week. He missed both sessions during the Patriots' bye in Week 7, and he also sat out both practices during the team's first-round bye in the playoffs.

Tight end Carson Butler, who was signed Thursday morning, was not at practice during the media portion, though it's possible he hadn't arrived to the facility. Butler spent a portion of the 2010 season on the Patriots' practice squad, and he was in training camp with New England over the summer. Since Aaron Hernandez is the only healthy tight end on the active roster, Butler will play an important role in practice this week.

The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells inside the Dana-Farber Field House.

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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