New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is currently going through the concussion protocol and his availability for Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia is technically unknown, despite assurances from Gronkowski himself that he will take the field.
But if Gronkowski is not cleared to play, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has a back-up plan.
“Dwayne [Allen]’s done a tremendous job,” McDaniels told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “He’s ready to go. He’s played a lot of snaps for us. I know that his role is different than Rob’s is, but if for whatever reason Rob’s not out there, that’s going to be something that Dwayne will be ready to do.”
When told of McDaniels’ confidence in his abilities, Dwayne Allen was taken aback and wanted to hear confirmation of what his coach actually said.
“Did you quote Josh?,” Allen asked Anderson when told McDaniels’ statement of trust. “Like, is that a quote? I need that. I need that. Whatever role Josh decides for me to play, I’ll go out and execute it to the best of my ability.”
Anderson asked if Allen were surprised McDaniels would envision that back-up plan for Gronkowski, and Allen said, “A little. It hasn’t been my role.”
Allen has been the back-up tight end all season, but has primarily been a blocker when on the field. He has 10 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in 2017, with all the production coming in the seven games immediately following the bye week. That’s a statline that Gronkowski regularly approaches in a single game.
McDaniels also noted that he trusts Gronkowski’s preparation and that he could be available to play even if he doesn’t fully participate in practice, but at least the team has a contingency plan in place.