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Rob Gronkowski: 'Questionable'

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The star tight end expected to act as savior for a struggling offense is upgraded, but will he play this weekend?

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Easily counting as the best news Patriots fans have heard in days weeks months, TE Rob Gronkowski and his various bionic maladies have been upgraded on the injury report from a 'doubtful' to a 'questionable' designation. Of course, this only means that there's a 50% chance he'll suit up for Sunday's game, but the prognosis is undoubtedly encouraging.

I still think it's more than likely Gronkowski will sit for one final game as he works diligently with the coaching staff to make up for lost time, but a sudden rise on the injury report all but guarantees that he'll play in some capacity during week four. If Gronkowski manages to avoid the inactive list against the Buccaneers this Sunday, the Patriots will elect to use him sparingly as a sort of game-shape primer. Don't expect an immediate impact if, for some reason, #87 is spotted in full pads on the sideline.

The Patriots need all the help they can get on offense, and managing to get Rob Gronkowski back in the fold would act as a boon for a usually prolific passing game. Rookie wideouts Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have all flashed brilliance at times, but need plenty of time to develop and become comfortable in a far less forgiving league. A healthy Gronkowski lessens their load significantly and also opens up a big, massive chunk of Patriot playbook that the team's been unable to open this season. Injury-wise, the team may be in even more dire straits with the continued absence of WR Danny Amendola, so rushing Gronkowski back prematurely in an attempt to jumpstart a sleeping offense would be a grave mistake.

Gronkowski underwent surgeries on a twice-broken forearm and on his back during the offseason, putting his beginning of the season in serious jeopardy. Up until this point, Gronkowski had been listed as "doubtful' with limited practice sessions leading up to both the Bills and Jets games.