By Shalise Manza Young
FOXBOROUGH – Though he took part in each of this week’s three practices, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will not play Sunday against Jacksonville, according to a league source.
Gronkowski broke his left forearm in the win over Indianapolis Nov. 18 and underwent surgery a day later.
He returned to practice Dec. 14, and was listed as limited in each of this week’s practices. The All-Pro is questionable for the game, but he will not be in uniform.
It’s possible Gronkowski would play in the regular-season finale against Miami to get in some snaps before the playoffs. In a brief locker room appearance Friday, he said he would chat with reporters next week, an indication he might play against the Dolphins since injured Patriots rarely talk to the media.
Gronkowski was one of 19 Patriots listed as limited in practice Friday and questionable for Sunday.
The rest of the list: Patrick Chung (shoulder), Dan Connolly (back), Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring/knee), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Dont’a Hightower (hamstring/shoulder), Chandler Jones (ankle), Brandon Lloyd (knee), Kyle Love (knee), Logan Mankins (ankle/calf), Jerod Mayo (elbow), Nick McDonald (shoulder), Mike Rivera (ankle), Nate Solder (abdomen), Brandon Spikes (knee/ankle), Aqib Talib (hip), Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), Wes Welker (ankle), Tracy White (elbow).
After missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, Rivera was back at practice, meaning the Patriots had perfect attendance for just the third time this season.
Jacksonville has ruled out its top two running backs: Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings.
Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said Thursday that Jones-Drew, who has missed the last eight games with a foot injury, was encouraged by his progress after running for a second straight day.
Upon finding out that Jones-Drew was out, Mayo said, “That’s news to me. I need to get Twitter.”
Jennings has not been cleared to return after suffering a concussion in Buffalo Dec. 2.
In need of depth, the Jaguars claimed running back Jonathan Grimes off waivers from Houston Friday.
Grimes played in nine games this season, six with the Texans and three with the Jets. He carried twice for 6 yards with New York.
The Texans parted ways with him Thursday.
Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady didn’t talk up the Jaguars with as much fervor as they typically do with other below-average teams, but hearing Brady praise the Jacksonville defense would be pretty tough to believe.
Even for a quarterback who consistently has one of the highest completion percentages in the league, Brady’s numbers in his last two meetings with the Jaguars are off the charts:
The last time the teams played, Dec. 27, 2009, Brady was 23 for 26 — a completion percentage of 88.5 — for 267 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The meeting prior, in the divisional round of 2007 playoffs, Brady set an all-time postseason record, completing 26 of 28 passes (92.9 percent) for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
Total, that’s 49 for 54, seven touchdowns, and zero picks. Substandard competition or not, those numbers are off the charts.
Brady is 5-0 all time against Jacksonville, including two postseason meetings.
He could post similar numbers this week: the Jaguars allowed Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill to complete 78.6 percent of his pass attempts last Sunday.
Jaguars center Brad Meester is the team’s most tenured player by three years, having been with the club since being drafted in 2000.
In that time, Meester has snapped to nine different starting quarterbacks.
Belichick spoke highly of Meester and elaborated on the importance of good center play.
“I think the communication starts from the inside and works its way out,” said Belichick. “As much as teams run the shotgun these days, where the quarterback can’t communicate with the line, especially on the road without walking up there and actually talking to them, the center handles a lot of that communication.”
He also joked about his own football background.
“He’s been a solid player for them and it’s a critical position, not because I played it [at Wesleyan], but because of the structure of the game,” Belichick said.
Belichick got in on the Mayan humor Friday, opening his press conference by joking, “Glad to see everyone’s still here.” . . . Former Dartmouth High and University of Connecticut standout Jordan Todman was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a calf injury.