New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski resumed practicing with full pads on Sunday, and Gronk also got some 11-on-11 work in during yesterday’s practice. Gronkowski’s timetable for return is completely up in the air, but the best guess at this point is Week 3 or 4 for Gronk. The Patriots were confident enough in Gronk’s health to cut both Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells, and I view their signing of Matthew Mulligan as a way to add an in-line blocking TE and move Michael Hoomanawanui to a role as mostly being the team’s H-Back blocking out of the backfield.
According to a league source close to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Rob Gronkowski is “unlikely” to play against the Buffalo Bills or New York Jets for the first two weeks of the season, and that’s something most of us believed anyway. It seems like there is no chance of Gronkowski playing against the Bills, and it would be difficult to envision Gronk playing against the New York Jets as well, considering the Jets game is in a short week.
However, the interesting part of Florio’s report is the fact that he states it is “not completely out of the question” that Gronkowski will play in the first two games. While I still think it is a tremendous reach to think that Gronk will face off against the Bills, it isn’t far-fetched to believe that it is possible for Gronk to play against the Jets. Jeff Howe reported yesterday that there are “whispers” that Gronk could play against the Jets in Week 2.
At this point in time, I am optimistic on Rob Gronkowski, but I still think we are a few weeks away from seeing him suiting up and playing. His recovery has gone well, but I’m going to stick with the earlier reports of him stating he is on track for starting in Week 3 (earlier reports being the reports earlier this month from the Boston Herald and ESPN). I believe Gronk will face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or in the big Week 4 game against the Atlanta Falcons. I believe Gronk will be able to face off against the Falcons, because his recovery has gone well enough and the Patriots will most likely want him to play in that big of a game.
Florio adds what we’re all beginning to see, that it is impossible to “know with certainty” when Rob Gronkowski will be able to return, and he adds that the Patriots are worried about his ability to stay healthy. For that reason, I think Week 3 is the earliest we’ll see him play, and Florio implied that he also believes Gronk’s earliest likely return date is Week 3.
And yes, this is pretty confusing at times.