Rob Gronkowski should be back on the field on Sunday night in Atlanta, or so the Patriots seem to believe.
Gronkowski has missed the first three weeks of the season while recovering from multiple offseason surgeries. The team seems to think he is ready to return to game action this week, but the All-Pro tight end disagrees, according to the Boston Herald.
This battle ground isn’t a new one for the two sides either. The Patriots thought during training camp that Gronkowski could be ready to go as early as Week 2, according to the report. The tight end’s opinion differs, though, as he has been targeting a return closer to Week 6 all along.
Gronkowski is being extra cautious about his return to the field this season. After four offseason surgeries, including operations on both his forearm and back, he wants to ensure that he’s completely healthy and fully ready to endure contact throughout a 60-minute game. The caution is understandable, especially after he made an earlier-than-expected return late last season and suffered a re-broken forearm during a playoff game against the Texans.
The Patriots’ offense has struggled in his absence, averaging a full 15 points less than last season and converting just four of 13 red zone opportunities. Tom Brady‘s connection with his young receiving corps has developed slower than anticipated, too, making the need for Gronkowkski’s overwhelming presence over the middle even greater.
Gronkowski was listed as “doubtful” on the Patriots’ injury report during the first two weeks of the season, but his status was upgraded to “questionable” in each of the last two weeks. So, it is still possible he could play against the Falcons on Sunday.