FOXBOROUGH — Rob Gronkowski missed his second consecutive practice Thursday with an unspecified chest injury, decreasing the chances he’ll be ready for the Patriots’ game Sunday afternoon against San Francisco.
The big tight end also didn’t hold his weekly meeting with the media — another sign that he likely won’t be on the flight to the West Coast on Friday afternoon.
Gronkowski was injured in Sunday’s loss when he took a heavy hit from Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
Starting left tackle Nate Solder missed practice for a noninjury-related reason. Rookie reserve defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton was not spotted on the practice field but was seen in the locker room prior to the workout. He was not on the injury report.
In addition to Gronkowski and Solder, receivers Julian Edelman (foot) and Chris Hogan (back), defensive tackle Alan Branch (back), and tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle) were also on the report and listed as limited.
Tom Brady, who suffered a right quadriceps injury against Seattle, was also at practice, though the quarterback pushed his meeting with the media back a day for the second straight day.
If Gronkowski is unable to play, more responsibility would fall on Bennett’s shoulders. That’s no big deal to Bennett, who shined earlier this season when Gronkowski missed the first two games and was fairly limited until Week 5 because of a hamstring ailment.
“It’s not different than what I’ve been doing my whole career,’’ said Bennett. “It’s just another game for me.’’
Bennett is second on the team with 38 receptions and 504 receiving yards. Bennett, who has started seven of nine games, leads the squad with four touchdown receptions.
“I’ve started the majority of my career, so starting a football game is just football,’’ he said. “It doesn’t matter how I’m played, or what I play. It’s just the same thing.’’
Count Bennett among those who were impressed by Gronkowski’s ability to play through the chest injury — he returned just a few plays after absorbing the hit.
“That’s what I expect from him,’’ said Bennett. “He’s a football player and he loves to play. If it’s something you feel like you can play through, we all have different injuries at different times that if it’s something you’re capable of playing through you’re going to play with it. If it’s something the doctor says you can’t play with, then you’re not going to play with it. If it was up to us, the majority of the time most guys are going to play.’’
Back in the game
Rookie Cyrus Jones got back into game action against the Seahawks, working as a kickoff and punt returner. He had spent the previous three games on the sideline after being ejected in the Week 5 victory over the Browns.
Like his season in general, the second-rounder’s return was a bit of a mixed bag. He flashed his electrifying potential on a 43-yard kickoff return, accelerating through a seam and showing some nice elusiveness.
However, Jones fumbled as he was being tackled. Fortunately for him it was recovered by teammate Nate Ebner. Though he acknowledged it’s tough, Jones tried to remain upbeat.
“I’m pretty hard on myself,’’ Jones said. “Regardless of how good the return was, I still don’t want that negative feeling [at the end]. So I was pretty upset. But I can’t sit there and dwell on it. We got the ball back [and the] offense was in scoring position, so I tried to look at the positives.’’
Asked if being hard on himself can sometimes backfire, Jones said, “Being hard on myself is what got me here.’’
Jones, who also fumbled a pair of punt returns against Houston (though one was overturned), had just two lost fumbles in 53 career returns at Alabama.
“I’ve got to focus on taking care of the ball,’’ said Jones, when asked how to improve his ball security. “It’s not really a rocket science answer. Just got to hold the ball tight.’’
Bennett, who has been on some bad teams over his nine-year career, was asked if the feeling around the Patriots locker room after a loss is any different than in his previous stops. As usual, he gave and entertaining answer. “A loss is a loss,’’ he said. “You kind of wash it way. Spilled milk, you don’t put it back in the jug. You clean it up and pour you another bowl.’’ . . . The 49ers (1-8) have struggled to move the ball consistently this season, but Branch has been impressed by what he’s seen from 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound tailback Carlos Hyde. “He’s a strong back. Likes to go downhill. Hard to tackle. Good vision. Got a good amount of speed. Really good back in this league,’’ said Branch. “Hopefully we can find a way to stop him before he gets to that point where he’s wearing us down.’’ . . . Devin McCourty was named one of 32 finalists for the third annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. The award recognizes players who demonstrate exceptional sportsmanship qualities, integrity and honor on the field, and serve as role models to players at all levels of the game. “He definitely earns the respect of his teammates, young or old,’’ said fellow defensive captain Dont’a Hightower. “He’s a leader, both on the field and in the community. He shows guys the Patriot way.’’ . . . Special Olympics Massachusetts and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will hold their eighth annual flag football tournament at Gillette Stadium Saturday.