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NFL Network: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski not expected to play against the Cardinals

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Yesterday, he was expected to play. Today, he no longer is.

After missing three weeks worth of practice time and preseason games due to what was later confirmed to be a hamstring injury, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to practice this week. However, he acknowledged that he was not yet 100 percent healthy, putting his status for Sunday’s season opener in question.

After a report yesterday that the 27-year old was expected to play, today’s reports sound far less positive. According to NFL Network’s Courtney Fallon, Gronkowski is not expected to play tomorrow:

#Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is NOT expected to play Sunday vs. #Cardinals, per source.

This report comes after the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels reported that Gronkowski was one of three players not to travel with the team today:

I'm hearing that Rob Gronkowski, Jonathan Cooper and Nate Solder weren't with their teammates on the flight to Arizona.

Of course, there is still the possibility that Gronkowski – as well as Cooper and Solder – fly west to join the team tomorrow; the Patriots do not have to officially rule any players out until Sunday 7:00 p.m. ET. However, contrary to yesterday’s reports, it now seems as if the chances of the All-world tight end playing against the Arizona Cardinals are slim.

Gronkowski, who is the Patriots’ second best player behind quarterback Tom Brady, missing the season opener would be a huge blow for the team. After all, first-time starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would have to play one of the NFL’s premier defenses without the best player in his offensive arsenal.

However, it seems as if the Patriots feel that giving Gronkowski’s hamstring additional time to heal is in the team’s best long-term interest. Hard to argue with that logic.