The situation surrounding New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is becoming stranger by the week. Gronkowski has been trying to get back on the field after undergoing multiple offseason surgeries and has been dealing with forearm and back issues. The Patriots players and their fans have been anxiously awaiting his return to the lineup, but he missed his sixth consecutive game on Sunday as the Patriots hosted the New Orleans Saints.
An ESPN report suggests that his absence on the playing field is starting to create some tension between the Patriots players. Ed Werder reports that Gronkowski has been taking as many as 50 reps on the practice field recently and was described as dominating in the role of Jimmy Graham for the practice squad.
Werder writes, “Teammates and coaches have seen him run patterns, catch passes, use his arm to pass protect, run block and to separate from defenders at the line of scrimmage, and they doubt a doctor would allow so much contact if there remained serious concern about the health of his forearm.”
It had been initially believed that the Patriots were targeting the Saints game as the date that he would return to the lineup. Prior to kickoff, he was made inactive. I twas reported that he was not medically cleared to play.
Werder quotes an unnamed source in his piece. The source questions whether or not Gronkowski plans on playing at all this season. “”Whatever is holding him back now isn’t going to be healed in two weeks, because there’s nothing wrong with the arm.”
It’s unusal to have Patriots players speaking about other players or injuries. New England is historically one of the hardest franchises to get information out of, starting with head coach Bill Belichick.
He’ll likely be asked about this report at today’s press conference and he’ll likely respond that Gronkowski was inactive Sunday. If this report is factual, it is certainly curious why he can’t find his way onto the field on Sundays.