The star tight end hasn't played this season while recovering from forearm and back surgery. Among the other inactive Patriots on Sunday were wide receiver Danny Amendola with a groin injury and special teams captain Matthew Slater with a wrist injury.
The other inactive Patriots are running back Leon Washington, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, offensive lineman Will Svitek and defensive tackle Chris Jones
Two tight ends are inactive for the Buccaneers:
Luke Stocker with a hip injury and Tom Crabtree with an ankle injury. Also inactive are quarterback Dan Orlovsky, cornerback Michael Adams, offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, defensive tackle Derek Landri and defensive end Steven Means.