Pats rule Jones, Mankins out for Thursday

The New England Patriots ruled out starting left guard Logan Mankins, starting right defensive end Chandler Jones and top tight end Rob Gronkowski for Thursday night's road game against the New York Jets.

The downgrades aren't a surprise, as Mankins (ankle/calf), Jones (right ankle) and Gronkowski (broken left forearm) are all battling injuries.

In Mankins' absence, fifth-year veteran Donald Thomas is likely to start. Thomas has been an unsung performer as the top backup at guard this season.

Jones is most likely to be replaced by third-year man Jermaine Cunningham, while the Patriots project to use a variety of players in an attempt to fill Gronkowski's void -- with veteran Visanthe Shiancoe one of the options who projects to see a spike in playing time.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is expected to suit up, has an official designation of "questionable."