It was previously reported yesterday by the Boston Herald and later by Adam Schefter that Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots were in disagreement over when the star TE should return. The Patriots reportedly believed that Gronkowsi was healthy enough to play in Week 2 (something I don’t buy), whereas Gronkowski’s “camp” wanted him to return later on in Week 6. Gronk has not made the trip with the team to Atlanta and will not play tonight, but there also isn’t a disagreement, according to Pro Football Talk.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that PFT is “hearing” Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots are not “at odds” with each other over his return date, thus refuting the reports from the Herald and Schefter. Per PFT, the Patriots and Gronkowski are on the “same page” regarding a return date, but when that return date is remains unknown. Florio believes that the Patriots want opponents to think that Rob Gronkowski has a chance at playing, so the opponent has to gameplan for the elite pass-catcher and blocker.
Week 7 would have been when Gronkowski could come off of the PUP list, but the Patriots were still wise to not place Gronk on the PUP. Why? The chance of him playing in a big game like against the Cincinnati Bengals or New Orleans Saints (or both) is one thing to consider, and an even more important reason is practice. If Gronkowski was on the PUP, the Patriots would not have been able to monitor his progress, and it would have been harder to get him into playing shape (read: shake off the rust) when activated from the PUP list. This way, the Patriots can better track his progress, and this is essentially “training camp” combined with “rehab” for Gronk.
I think we could see Rob Gronkowski back on the field next week or against the Saints, but, based on this report, it sounds like the Patriots and Gronkowski agree that it’s all about easing Gronk into things. His long-term health is more important, and I think we can all agree that it’s better to have him healthy in the playoffs than in Week 4.