FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was a surprise absence from Thursday’s practice session. It turns out an illness kept the star tight end out.

Here’s Thursday’s practice participation and injury report:

DT Alan Branch (knee)
RB Rex Burkhead (knee)
RB Mike Gillislee (knee)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)

QB Tom Brady (Achilles, left shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)
DE Eric Lee (ankle)
FS Devin McCourty (shoulder)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
LB Kyle Van Noy (calf)
OT LaAdrian Waddle (ankle)
RB James White (ankle)

It seems unlikely that Branch, Burkhead or Gillislee will play Sunday against the New York Jets after missing two practices to start the week. It’s unclear when Gillislee injured his knee in Week 16. Three of the Patriots’ five running backs are banged up. Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden are the only healthy backs on the roster.

Brady returned to practice Thursday. He missed Wednesday’s session with the two ailments.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images