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Rob Gronkowski & Matthew Slater are officially active

Jim Rogash

It's official: Rob Gronkowski will return to the field for the New England Patriots. The star tight end has missed six games as he recovered from forearm and back surgeries, so it is nice to finally have him back on the field. Surprisingly, the team also gets a bonus as special teams ace Matthew Slater will return after missing four games. Both the offense and special teams get much needed boosts and it couldn't come on a perfect day, as the Pats have an important division game against the 3-3 New York Jets.

There was a thought this morning that cornerback Alfonzo Dennard could be inactive, since he came off the field after warming up, but he is playing. Wide receiver Austin Collie also gets the nod once again over rookie Josh Boyce, as Danny Amendola is missing the game with a concussion.

Keep an eye on how snaps are distributed offensively. I expect Gronk to go full throttle, playing virtually all the snaps, but it's possible that the Patriots hold him back this week. I also think Austin Collie deserves more snaps after his performance last week. I thought he showed good burst with his first step off the line of scrimmage, and if his understanding of the offense has developed even more, then he could receive snaps in 3-WR packages.