New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski was not placed on the active/PUP list for the start of training camp, thus making him a lock for Week 1 barring an unexpected turn of events. Gronk’s medical clearance prior to the start of camp was obviously excellent news, but he’s going to be treated carefully over the next month. There’s no sense in making him do much, as he’s recovering from a number of serious injuries, specifically the torn ACL and MCL he suffered late last season. The Patriots will ease Gronk into things until Week 1, and then he should be ready to dominate.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss reported last night that Gronkowski was, unsurprisingly, spotted with a brace on his injured knee, but it was also interesting to read that Gronk is still wearing a “protective cover” over his arm. It’s probably just a precaution on the first day of training camp, but I think it’s still worth noting nonetheless. The most important thing to note, though, is Reiss’s observation that Gronkowski “didn’t seem reluctant running, cutting and planting” and stuck around to catch some passes from Tom Brady after practice; this is definitely a good, early sign.
Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league and a true difference-maker in the running and passing game, so a healthy Gronk coupled with the development of the young wide receivers makes me believe that Brady is in store for another big season. He played better than some statistics would indicate, because he did an amazing job of moving the chains and avoiding interceptions despite a host of new targets. When Gronkowski was on the field, the Patriots offense looked like a top-notch unit again, but the scary thing is that they could still be great if Gronk gets injured again, as Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce are only getting better.