In case there was anyone who thought Rob Gronkowski could actually play in this one, the New England Patriots have officially ruled out the star tight end. According to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, Rob Gronkowski did not make the trip to Buffalo with the team, and the Patriots did a pretty good job of trying to smokescreen things. Earlier this week, they had Gronkowski put some stuff into his travel bag, and they also only listed him as doubtful. There was no question that Gronkowski would miss today’s game, and it would have been ridiculous to play Gronk. He clearly isn’t ready for action, and I don’t expect him to play until Week 3.
With Gronkowski officially ruled out, Zach Sudfeld will be the one getting the start at tight end. The undrafted free agent out of Nevada is a talented receiver, and he played a lot in the slot at Nevada. It will be interesting to see how his blocking is as an in-line tight end, because he is still raw as a blocker. There is no denying Sudfeld’s pure talent as a blocker, but he blocked in the Pistol Offense.
Sudfeld will mostly see time against strong-side linebacker Manny Lawson and strong safety Da’Norris Searcy in coverage, and those should be matchups that Sudfeld does solid against. Lawson and Searcy should do about an average job of covering Sudfeld, but he should be able to snag somewhere in the neighborhood of four passes.