On Sunday, the New England Patriots will start their season with their best player on the sidelines: quarterback Tom Brady. The team might also have to play without its second-best player, tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski only recently returned to practice after missing the last three weeks due to a hamstring injury, as yesterday’s injury report confirmed. Today was the third straight day, the All-world tight end practiced but after the session he acknowledged that he is not yet where he needs to be:
Rob Gronkowski admits he's not feeling 100 percent healthy. Been dealing with a "hammy thing" since Bears joint practice.— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) September 8, 2016
Gronkowski was listed as ‘questionable’ on yesterday’s practice report and noted that his availability for Sunday’s game depends on how the coaches judge his health:
Will you play Sunday?— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 8, 2016
Gronk: "Yeah. It boils down to a coach's decision."
Missing Gronkowski would be a huge blow to the offense, as he is the unit’s best and most dominant skill position player. Considering that Brady will be out, his role becomes even more important.
Still, the coaching staff has to act in the team’s best long-term interest. Whether it is holding Gronkowski out of Sunday’s game is, playing him limited snaps or letting him go full-speed, full-time remains to be seen. Him making tomorrow’s trip might give us a first indication.