Rob Gronkowski: When Should He Play?


As most Patriots fans should know by now, Rob Gronkowski just had his fourth surgery on his injured forearm. The infection is clear, which is great news for him, but there is another question mark surrounding his health. He may be having another surgery, this time on his back, to correct a lingering disk issue. Anyone that checked the Patriots’ injury report over the past season before Gronk’s forearm injury noticed that he was always listed as “Questionable” with a back injury. In fact, Gronk has had lingering back problems ever since sitting out the entire 2009 season after injuring it while lifting. This injury is what led to him falling in the draft until the second round. While this current disk issue is unrelated to the back injury in 2009, the constant injuries are cause for concern.

If Gronk were to have the back surgery, the recovery time would coincide with the recovery time for his forearm. This is a good sign, but his strength and conditioning will likely take a hit while he recovers from both. After he is fully recovered, he may not be in a position to play immediately. He may need to sit out some extra time to regain his strength and endurance so he can be effective again. The slated recovery time is 10 weeks, which would allow him to be ready for week 1, but is that wise?

We have already seen Gronkowski rushed back from his arm recovery for the playoffs, only to re-break his arm and set him back further. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that Gronkowski is way more valuable to the Patriots healthy and on the field, than constantly in a state of recovery. His presence is even more valuable this year with the new cast of receivers that Tom Brady will be throwing to. Regardless of his chemistry with them, Gronkowski needs to be his go-to guy. More importantly, Gronkowski needs to be his go-to guy in the playoffs. The past two seasons Gronk hasn’t been there in the playoffs when Brady needed him. With a healthy Gronk on the field, one could argue that the Patriots win Super Bowl XLVI and possibly beat the Ravens to advance to the Super Bowl last year.

With all that said, when should Gronk play? The Patriots already have a stud at TE with Aaron Hernandez and this season Jake Ballard will be able to play after returning from torn knee ligaments. He proved he can play at a high level with the Giants when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, so he can be a more effective fill-in for Gronk than Dan Fells or Michel Hoomanawanui. Both of those tight ends will also be returning this season, so the Patriots have four talented TE’s to take Gronkowski’s place in the event that he needs extra recovery time. I would rather see Gronkowski take a couple extra weeks off in order to regain his strength and ensure that he is completely healthy. Despite the Dolphins beefing up their team, the Patriots are still the kings of the AFC East and should be readily able to keep their crown without Gronkowski. He is really needed at the end of the season when the games are more important, particularly the playoffs.

The Patriots open the season playing the Bills, Jets, and Buccaneers. These are three very winnable games without Gronkowski, so he should sit these games and return for week 4 when the Patriots travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. That game will be a huge test for the Patriots and having him on the field will go a long way. What do you guys think?

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Tags: New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski

  • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

    Gronk is going to be healthy by then, and the Pats should just play him as early as he is healthy. There’s little sense in resting him against the bad teams, because you can’t underestimate those guys. If Gronk is ready to play, then he’s playing. I think we’re overreacting just a tad on Gronk’s injury, because he should be able to make it back in late training camp. Things could change and it isn’t a given that he’ll be back by the regular season, but I think we’ll be seeing Gronk healthy by then. I want the Patriots to limit him early on, but I don’t want them to outright not play him in order to give him rest.

    • Tim Dillon

      true you dont want to underestimate those teams, but I can’t imagine the patriots doing any worse than 2-1 against those teams without gronk. Even if they lose all 3, they can still finish the season with a winning record. Losing all 3 would show this team more weaknesses than just at TE, so Gronk would be the least of those concerns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Danglybits9.11 Dan Gleebitz

    I got a couple of bulging discs right now and am scheduled for an epidural tomorrow. Doc says no strenuous activity for 6 weeks and it may heal on its own. I know I am a mere mortal and Gronk is superhuman but man that hurts like a mo-fo. If I was in his position I would strongly consider getting surgery now to avoid it down the road. GO PATS!

    • Tim Dillon

      good luck with your back Dan!

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Dan, I wish you the best in your recovery and hope that the pain soon subsides. Always appreciate you dropping by to comment, and so I can’t say enough how much I hope you get well soon. What you said definitely matches up with Gronk’s back injury, because he has been dealing with chronic pain. If surgery is the right method (which it sounds like it definitely is), then I hope he gets that and recovers fully from it as soon as possible.

  • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

    I was thinking the exact time frame before I began to read the article. I would like the Pats to be very cautious and slowly work Gronk into the lineup after the third game of the season. I really like the talent Balllard brings to the offense. The second half of the season will prove challenging and a healthy Gronk will go a long way to secure another AFC EAST title and position themselves for the playoffs.

    • Tim Dillon

      Completely agree Paul!

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