FOXBORO — Will Rob Gronkowski finally return Sunday to game action?

FOXBORO — The NFL has often been accused of going out of its way to protect Tom Brady by defensive players who just can’t get to the quarterback in time.

But it’s not often that you see a rookie complaining about it.

FOXBORO — Less than 24 hours after reports that it was “highly unlikely” Aqib Talib would play on Sunday against the Jets with a hip flexor strain, the star cornerback was back on the upper grass practice fields on Friday morning. Talib missed practice Wednesday and Thursday before surprisingly showing up on Friday.

FOXBORO — It appears Rob Gronkowski has finally been cleared to return to action.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that they have been told by his agent Drew Rosenhaus that Gronkowski – and his surgically repaired left forearm – has been cleared by Dr. James Andrews.

“Rob has now been cleared by all his doctors to play Sunday in the Jets game,” Rosenhaus told multiple reporters Friday morning via text message.

FOXBORO — Aqib Talib will be missing his first game of the season Sunday, according to a report from Pro Football Talk.

A hip flexor strain will likely keep the most valuable player in the secondary to this point of the season out of Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium. Quoting a league source, PFT says the cornerback is unlikely to play due to the injury against the Saints.

FOXBORO — Dan Connolly returned to practice Thursday and was limited with a concussion while another offensive lineman, Marcus Cannon, showed up limited for the first time this week with a shoulder issue. In all, four players missed Thursday’s practice while nine were limited in sweats and shells outside Gillette Stadium as the Patriots continued on-field preparations for the Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski made one thing perfectly clear Thursday. Whenever he returns, it will be a group decision.

Gronkowski said when he does return it will be a decision made in conjunction with the team’s medical staff and coach Bill Belichick.

Rob Gronkowski‘s agent Drew Rosenhaus said Thursday that his client hasn’t received medical clearance to play, and expressed surprise that the tight end’s situation has gotten as much attention as it has.

“I don’t understand why this story has gotten so much traction. There are dozens of players around the NFL who aren’t playing because they are injured and coming back from surgery,” Rosenhaus said while appearing with Joe Rose on WQAM-AM 560.

FOXBORO -- For the Patriots, the challenges keep on coming.

FOXBORO — Cornerback Aqib Talib, wide receiver Danny Amendola, running back Leon Washington and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly were not spotted at the start of Patriots practice Thursday morning on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, marking the second consecutive day all four players were absent.