The New England Patriots may be playing just one of their top two tight ends once again this week, although there is still much uncertainty as to which one is actually more healthy. Rob Gronkowski is expected to start this afternoon against the Denver Broncos, as Aaron Hernandez is once again not expected to play. Yet it is actually unknown as to whether or not Gronkowski is really that much healthier than Hernandez.
Sal Paolantonio of ESPN said that Gronkowski is expected to play, even though he has been battling through a painful hip injury. Although Gronk has been in “significant” pain with his hip, he was never thought of being in doubt of playing this week. But if it continues to get worse, New England may be forced to go without him for a game at some point.
Ideally, the Patriots would like to keep Gronkowski in the lineup at least until Hernandez returns. Paolantonio also suggested that Hernandez is also “probably not going to play today,” which comes as no surprise. While he returned to practice for the first time this week, I still figured that he was at least another week away from returning.
Either way, as long as Gronkowski is active, the Patriots will look his way early and often. He should put up his typical monster numbers. While Hernandez is most likely to be inactive this week, he is clearly getting closer. I would say that there is a strong chance he will be back for the Patriots next weekend.