FOXBORO, Mass. — The No. 1 question entering Super Bowl LII is whether tight end Rob Gronkowski will take the field for the New England Patriots.
Gronkowski was knocked out of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game with a concussion after absorbing a hit from Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church. He has yet to return to the field, sitting out Thursday’s practice and Friday’s walkthrough, and would not have played if the Patriots had a game this Sunday, according to the team.
The two-week break between the championship weekend and Super Bowl Sunday will afford Gronk plenty of time to heal up before New England’s matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, though, and the Patriots reportedly are optimistic about his chances of playing.
If he can’t, No. 2 tight end Dwayne Allen is prepared to pick up the slack.
“I just played a little bit more snaps (after Gronkowski’s injury) than I would have,” Allen said Friday. “I just go in there and execute the plays that are called. It’s that simple. I prepare to be a starter every week, and whenever I get my opportunities, I’m expected to go in there and execute.”
Allen proved to be a capable blocker during his first season with the Patriots, but he was a non-factor in the passing game, catching just 10 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown in 16 regular-season games. He was not targeted in either of the team’s first two playoff games.
A member of the 2014 Indianapolis Colts team that lost to the Patriots in the AFC title game, Allen downplayed the significance of reaching his first Super Bowl.
“It’s a neat opportunity,” Allen said. “The thing that was going through my head last week was, ‘Hey, look, if win this game, I get two more weeks of practice to get better. I get two weeks with my teammates and another opportunity to play, and that’s been my approach for this (game). I get to enjoy the practices. I get to get better each and every day.”
If Gronkowski cannot go, rookie tight end Jacob Hollister likely would slot back into the lineup after being inactive against the Jaguars.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images
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