FOXBORO -- When the Patriots began their minicamp practice on Tuesday morning, there was one noticeable absence. One of their biggest players, not to mention one of their best, was missing.
Rob Gronkowski was one of 13 players not present at the first of three mandatory workouts scheduled to take place behind Gillette Stadium this week. The All-Pro tight end was, however, at the team's facilities. He was present at the facilities last week during as well, showing up at the Myra Kraft Community MVP Luncheon Awards Ceremony alongside Tom Brady.
Though Gronkowski has missed both practices that have been open to reporters, his presence at Gillette Stadium would seem to indicate that he is not choosing to hold himself out of the workouts.
The Patriots have opted to tread carefully with the health of their game-changing tight end during offseason activities in recent years: Whether because he was dealing with physical ailments or because the team wanted to prevent him from risking injury, Gronkowski hasn't played in a single exhibition game snap since 2012.
"There are a lot of players that were not on the field," Bill Belichick said when asked about Gronkowski on Tuesday. "They were doing other things."
Patriots receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, offensive linemen Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason and Tre' Jackson, safety Nate Ebner, running backs Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount, and defensive backs Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon were all missing from Tuesday's practice as well.
Like Gronkowski, Harmon and Ryan were present at the team's facilities Tuesday. Ebner is in the process of workout out with USA Rugby in the hopes of making the Olympic roster. Edelman, Amendola, Solder, Vollmer, Mason, Jackson, Lewis and Blount all dealt with injuries late last season and are in different stages of recovery.
There were four players who were missing from the team's first open OTA session late last month who were present on Tuesday: Malcolm Butler (who explained his May 26 OTA absence as a "misunderstanding"), Alan Branch, Frank Kearse and Joe Cardona (who got to work out in front of his alma mater's coaching staff).