After weeks of anticipation, it appears Rob Gronkowski will make his return to game action on Sunday.
Gronkowski is expected to be cleared to return and will likely play for the Patriots when the Saints visit Gillette Stadium on Sunday, according to Pro Football Talk. His expected return comes just two weeks after reports that Gronkowski and the team had conflicting views about his timeline to return. That report also indicated that Gronkowski was targeting a Week 6 return all along.
Gronkowski, 24, has missed each of the Patriots’ first five games this season while recovering from offseason back and forearm surgeries. He missed the entire preseason while on the mend and only started practicing with the team at the beginning of September. He has been a limited participant in practices over the last few weeks, but he has picked up his regiment in recent weeks and was even listed as “questionable” on the injury reports in both Week 4 and 5.
The Patriots’ offense has struggled without Gronkowski in the lineup, especially in the red zone where they rank second worst in the NFL with a 35 percent touchdown rate. His return should provide Tom Brady with more of a safety blanket across the middle and near the end zone. His presence should also alleviate some pressure from Julian Edelman, who has seen a team-high 50 targets through five games, and rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson.
There is still a chance that Gronkowski doesn’t play on Sunday, but all indications seem to be pointing toward his season debut.