-- FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was not present for Friday's practice, marking the third straight day he has been absent because of a chest injury sustained in Sunday night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Based on the Patriots' history that most players who don't practice usually don't play in games, it appears unlikely Gronkowski will be available for Sunday's road contest against the San Francisco 49ers.
The team travels to the Bay Area later Friday.
If Gronkowski doesn't make the trip, it would leave Martellus Bennett and Matt Lengel as the two available tight ends on the roster. Bennett, who has 38 catches for 504 yards and four touchdowns this season, would rise into the top role.
Gronkowski has been at the team facility each of the past three days but has left in the later hours of the morning while teammates were preparing for practice.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter has been told that the injury is "not overly serious" and that Gronkowski does not have a punctured lung, as has been reported.