Rob Gronkowski Misses Wednesday’s Practice for Patriots

INDIANAPOLIS — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski still hasn't practiced since injuring his ankle in the AFC Championship Game, and he was the only player missing from New England's session Wednesday.

Prior to practice, Gronkowski said he's been improving on a daily basis. He missed two sessions last week, as well as Monday's practice.

Left tackle Matt Light, who has the flu, was a full participant at Wednesday's session.

Ten players were limited: tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), safety Patrick Chung (knee), linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb), defensive lineman Kyle Love (ankle), left guard Logan Mankins (knee), linebacker Rob Ninkovich (hip), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (flu, foot, back), wide receiver Wes Welker (knee) and linebacker Tracy White (abdomen).

Wide receiver Deion Branch (knee), center Dan Connolly (groin), safety James Ihedigbo (shoulder), wide receiver Matthew Slater (shoulder) and Light were the five players listed as full participants.

The Patriots will also practice Thursday and Friday.

The following is the Patriots' practice pool report from Alex Marvez of FOXsports.com. Marvez was the only writer permitted to attend practice:

INDIANAPOLIS — An almost-complete New England Patriots squad conducted a two-and-a-half hour Super Bowl XLVI practice in helmets and shells Wednesday at Indianapolis Colts team headquarters.
 
"We had our moments — some good ones and some things we've got to work on," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said afterward. "They're trying. They're working hard. We've got a ways to go, though.
 
"We've had a little bit of extra time to prepare so we hit all the areas. I thought we had good tempo and good timing. We'll back down a little bit the next couple of days."
 
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was the only player who didn't participate during Wednesday's session. Gronkowski suffered a left ankle injury Jan. 22 during New England's 23-20 AFC Championship game victory over Baltimore.
 
"He's day to day," Belichick said. "He's getting better but, we'll just take it day to day."
 
Tackle Sebastian Vollmer (foot/back) worked on a limited basis.
 
"He did a little bit [Wednesday]," Belichick said. "We'll see how he does [Thursday]."
 
Left tackle Matt Light, who battled an illness earlier in the week, completed a full practice.
 
To prepare for the crowd noise expected inside Lucas Oil Stadium during Sunday’s matchup against the New York Giants, the Patriots blasted loud music through much of practice inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

"We can make it loud enough so that [the players] can't hear," said Belichick, whose team has not played inside a dome this season. "As long as they can't hear, you have to do silent communications whether it’s on defense with hand signals or offense with tapping the center [for the snap] and all that."
 
Among the selections played were songs from Jon Bon Jovi – a personal friend of Belichick's who attended New England's second-round playoff win over Denver — and Super Bowl XLVI halftime performer Madonna. Belichick said he and Patriots director of football/head coach administration Berj Najarian choose the songs but added with a smile, “I get veto power.”
 
Besides standard game preparation that included 11-on-11, 7-on-7, goal-line and two-minute drills, the Patriots spent a portion of Wednesday's session working on kickoffs and kickoff coverage. Belichick said kickoffs are usually practiced on Thursday but the team is a day ahead from having conducted a full-pads practice Monday in Indianapolis.
 
"[Wednesday] is like Thursday for us during the season," Belichick said. "We do punt and punt return on Wednesday, which was Monday."
 
Belichick said Thursday’s practice will "be a little shorter and really more review for everything like we did today –- first, second, third down and red [zone] area and all the situations."

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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