FOXBORO (CBS) — The return of Tom Brady is the big storyline in New England this week, leading up to Sunday’s Patriots-Buccaneers showdown at Gillette Stadium. Not to be forgotten is the return of Rob Gronkowski, who came out of retirement last season to join Brady in Tampa.

But Gronkowski did not practice on Wednesday, Tampa Bay’s first practice of the week as the team prepares for the Patriots. The tight end suffered a rib injury Tampa’s Week 3 loss to the L.A. Rams, remaining down for a few minutes after he took a shot from Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis.

Gronkowski did return to the game after spending time in the medical tent and Tampa locker room, and finished the afternoon with four receptions for 55 yards. He has 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns so far this season.

It should be noted that Gronkowski was given days off by Bruce Arians throughout the 2020 season, and it was reported Monday night that the tight end is expected to play in Sunday night’s return to New England.

Gronkowski was one of three Buccaneers that did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, along with running back Giovanni Bernard (knee) and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder). Cornerback Jamel Dean (knee) and receiver Jaydon Mickens (abdomen) were both limited for the Bucs.

For New England, running back James White is the only player who did not practice on Wednesday. White is reportedly done for the rest of the season after he was carted off the field with a hip injury during Sunday’s loss to the Saints.

Seven Patriots were listed as limited on Wednesday:

DL Henry Anderson, Ankle
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, Shoulder
T Trent Brown, Calf
K Nick Folk, Left Knee
LB Josh Uche, Back
LB Kyle Van Noy, Groin
T Isaiah Wynn, Knee

N’Keal Harry, who began the season on IR, was present at Wednesday’s session for New England. The Patriots now have 21 days to activate the third-year receiver.

CBSBoston.com Staff