FOXBORO - The Patriots received some very good news on Thursday as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was back on the practice field in preparation for Sunday's game against the Texans.
Cannon did not participate in Wednesday's practice and he was listed as having an ankle injury and a concussion. That he was on the field a day later means that he has advanced to the point in the league's concussion protocol that he can participate in practice, but it's unclear what his availability will be for Sunday's game.
Should Cannon be sidelined, the Patriots would likely go with Cameron Fleming (or LaAdrian Waddle) as their starter at right tackle. But if Cannon can go, the Patriots would certainly take him. The Texans defensive line will be among the most talented that New England sees all season.
Missing from Thursday's practice were running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee). Burkhead missed Wednesday's session as well, casting some doubt on his availability for Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski was at the start of practice for the second straight day. He participated in warmups and drills during the media-availability portion of Wednesday's practice but the team announced later in the day that he did not participate due to a groin injury suffered against the Saints.
1:55 - On Early Edition, Gary Tanguay, Kyle Draper, and Cedric Maxwell debate if the Celtics should consider trading Kyrie Irving to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
6:56 - Tom E. Curran joins Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Phil Perry to discuss Tom Brady’s recent comments in his interview with Oprah and how life is starting to encroach on football.
11:48 - On Boston Sports Tonight, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Phil Perry talk about Phil Mickelson’s decision to putt a moving ball on the 13th hole of the US Open on Saturday.
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Rob Gronkowski has jumped up eight spots in the NFL Network's Top 100 rankings - going from 23rd in 2017 to 15th this year.
Gronkowski was limited to eight games and 25 catches because of back surgery in 2016. The five-time Pro Bowl selection played in 14 games last season with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season and 16 catches, three for TDs, in three postseason games.
Players ranked 11th through 20th were revealed Monday night.
Gronk is the first Patriot and highest-ranked tight end in the 2018 Top 100, which is voted on by players. Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce checked in at No. 24.
They'll probably be a Patriot quarterback somewhere in the top 10 when it's revealed next week. There was one ranked No. 1 last year.