New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski could be back from offseason back and arm surgeries this week to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his return could be the saving grace that the Patriots offense needs. The Patriots should be fine long-term if key players can stay healthy and the rookie receivers can get things down, and I’d say I’m optimistic on both (though, maybe the latter more so than the former, because I’m generally leery when it comes to injuries) happening. But the Patriots still need wins in the short-term. and they need to have one big-time pass-catcher for Tom Brady to throw it to. With Danny Amendola out for, most likely, another two weeks, Rob Gronkowski looks like the most logical option. Brady likened Gronkowski to a No. 1 pitcher, and the Patriots need to have their ace back in order to swing what should be a close game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their favor. The Patriots are the favorites, but not by much after two very close games against bottom-feeders (even if they are division rivals, the offense still was terrible against the New York Jets).
Anyway, the target date for Gronkowski’s return has been late September, specifically Week 3 against the Buccaneers, ever since multiple reports surfaced in August. And even though Pro Football Talk reported yesterday that Rob Gronkowski is more 25-75 (doubtful) to play than “questionable” (ESPN’s Ed Werder reported him 50-50), we have only heard good things about Gronkowski’s progression from injury. He even began to practice before Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, and there were minor rumblings of a possible return against the Jets in Week 2. While that was never really in the question, Rob Gronkowski has done an excellent job in his recovery and really does seem ready to play in Week 3.
The Patriots never give out injury information, so we’re generally left to speculate a crazy amount on this stuff. However, the closest thing we can get to an official update is a quote from Rob Gronkowski himself, and that’s exactly what the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin has. Per Volin, Gronkowski stated he has made “big time” progress and has progressed “significantly since last week”.
I would be surprised if he misses the game against the Buccaneers, but it is possible that the Patriots merely limit him in order to ease him into things. That’s the most likely scenario, in my mind, and I’d rather have a little bit of Gronkowski instead of no Gronkowski. It seems like he is healthy enough, but the Patriots might just want to give their star more rest, and they might also want to give him as much rest as possible in order to be 100% in their big Week 4 game against the Atlanta Falcons.
This smells like another game-time decision.