After weeks of playing the will he or won’t he game, Rob Gronkowski was finally cleared by doctors on Friday and appears primed to play for the Patriots for the first time all season on Sunday.
Gronkowski traveled with the team to New Jersey on Saturday as they headed to New Jersey for Sunday’s game against the Jets, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. This marks the first time this season that Gronkowski has traveled with the team to an away game.
While the news is all positive surrounding Gronkowski, the Patriots will be without another one of their primary playmakers on Sunday. Cornerback Aqib Talib, who suffered a hip injury during last Sunday’s win against the Saints, did not travel with team on Saturday, which is likely a sign that he will not play this weekend.
Talib has been the Patriots’ most consistent defensive back this season. He’s tied for the league lead with four interceptions and ranks fifth in the NFL with nine pass breakups on the season. Second-year corner Alfonzo Dennard, veteran Kyle Arrington and rookie Logan Ryan will all likely move up the depth chart to account for Talib’s expected absence.
Gronkowski’s return should help the Patriots overcome some of their offensive woes, especially those down in the red zone, where they rank 30th in the NFL with a 40 percent touchdown rate. Even while missing 11 games over the past two seasons, Gronkowski has caught more touchdown passes (38) than any other player in the NFL since he was drafted in 2010, so his presence will definitely be felt.