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Week 5 Patriots vs Buccaneers: TE Rob Gronkowski a surprise inactive

The tight end's injury appears to be more serious than initially thought.

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

In not even an hour, the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open week five of the 2017 NFL regular season. Leading up to the game, the two teams have released their list of inactive players – and the Patriots' includes some big names.

Take a look:

RB Rex Burkhead

CB Eric Rowe

DT Alan Branch

OT Cole Croston

LB Harvey Langi

TE Rob Gronkowski

OT LaAdrian Waddle

While Rex Burkhead and Eric Rowe have already been declared out yesterday due to injury, the rest of the list above was declared inactive just recently. Cole Croston, LaAdrian Waddle and Harvey Langi are all healthy scratches; the biggest name on the list is undoubtedly Rob Gronkowski, though.

The NFL's best tight end was originally expected to play tonight but apparently his thigh injury is worse than thought and will now keep him out of tonight's contest. Consequently, the Patriots will enter the game with Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister atop their tight end depth chart.

Also surprising is the inclusion of defensive tackle Alan Branch, who did not travel with the team despite no reported injuries. Branch has seen uneven playing time since week two and today's inactivity further reflects how he had slipped down the depth chart behind Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler.

The Buccaneers inactives look as follows: