It would appear that reports of Rob Gronkowski's return have been greatly exaggerated.
After some speculation earlier this week that Gronk had a "very good chance" to play against the Atlanta Falcons, news broke earlier today that he will not in fact be making the trip down south. Neither will receiver Danny Ammendola, who has been limited in practice all week and was officially listed as questionable.
It would have been nice to see Gronk back out there tomorrow, but at the end of the day I'm not overly upset about this one. Atlanta at home in a must-win game for them is a tall order as it is, with or without the tight end, and if he isn't ready to go then he isn't ready. While having Gronk in the lineup would have provided a huge boost for the offense, particularly in the red zone, the logic must have been that it would be better to have him completely healthy and ready to go against a very tough Cincinnati Bengals team and then the high powered Saints at home. The Patriots are definitely going to need him for those games, particularly the Cincy game, which could very well have tiebreaker implications down the road.
So good luck, rookies. Insanely loud, hostile crowd indoors on a Primetime Sunday Night game. Time for some trial by fire.