New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL in early December after absorbing a low blow from former Cleveland Browns star strong safety T.J. Ward, and his status for the start of training camp was 50-50. While Gronk gave an optimistic and rather untelling statement about how he plans to play all 16 games this year, he wasn’t sure if he would be placed on the PUP list. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stated this morning that Gronk has been medically cleared by doctors and will not have to hit the active/PUP list. This means that he won’t be hitting the reserve/PUP list either, thereby making him just about a lock to play in Week 1, unless if the Pats deliberately want to hold him out.
It looks like Gronk is fully past his knee issues, though I wouldn’t expect the Patriots to let him do much in training camp or in the preseason. The biggest goal with him is resting him up as much as possible for a grueling regular season ahead, as the team’s second-most valuable player has missed 14 games in the past two seasons with major arm and knee injuries. But when he did play in 2013, Gronkowski was one of the most valuable pass-catchers in the league with elite blocking and a whopping 84.6 yards per game.
With a healthy Gronk, the Patriots offense could be one of the league’s elite units again. Make no mistake, Tom Brady is still an elite quarterback, and he has a deep crop of receivers around him. If Danny Amendola stays healthy for at least the critical portions of the season, Stevan Ridley absolves his fumbling issues, Gronk stays healthy, and Aaron Dobson breaks out, then this offense will be scary. Heck, if three of those four things happen, then the offense will be scary.