New England Patriots

The New England Patriots practice at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on November 2, 2018. (Matt Dolloff/WBZ-FM)

The New England Patriots practice at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on November 2, 2018. (Matt Dolloff/WBZ-FM)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Rob Gronkowski returned to practice for the Patriots’ Friday walkthrough at the upper practice field by Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Right guard Shaq Mason, however, remained absent for the third straight day as he continues to nurse a calf injury.

Gronkowski has now been listed with both ankle and back injuries for three weeks in a row. He was limited on Wednesday, but missed practice on Thursday. Considering Gronkowski’s odd behavior at his Wednesday press conference, his isolated absence on Thursday appears to be more than just some kind of maintenance day and possibly a “clear your head” kind of day off for the tight end. But that’s just speculation.

It’s also quite possible that Gronkowski is simply continuing to work through his injuries and that they’ve slowed him to the point of stunningly low production through eight games in 2018. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who predicted Gronk would have just one touchdown through eight games in 2018.

Additional absences at Friday’s walkthrough included LB Nicholas Grigsby (illness) and OL Brian Schwenke (foot). In addition, LS Joe Cardona (shoulder) was present but appeared to leave practice early. Final injury reports and game statuses for both teams are expected Friday afternoon.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.