New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a minor knee strain as an MRI revealed a bruised right knee, according to ESPN. The report indicates that Gronk will miss at least this Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and a Fox Sports report suggests Gronkowski will also be out of action one to two weeks. Fortunately for the Patriots and their fans, the injury is not as serious as it looked on Sunday night, and the mercurial tight end will return before the end of the regular season.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Gronkowski was injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s loss to the Denver Broncos, with the Patriots leading by four with just under three minutes left in the game. Broncos’ safety Darian Stewart hit Gronkowski low on a pass thrown by Tom Brady, leaving the tight end writhing in pain. He was subsequently carted off the field and did not return to the game.
Rob Gronkowski joins a growing list of Patriots’ offensive stars lost to injury. Running back Dion Lewis’ season ended on November 8 when he tore his ACL against the Washington Redskins. Wide receiver Julian Edelman will miss the rest of the regular season with a foot injury, and fellow wide receiver Danny Amendola is expected to return Sunday after missing the last game with a knee injury. As if all that weren’t enough, the Patriots’ offensive line has been one of the most shuffled and inconsistent units in football. New England also released recently-added receiver Chris Harper, who lost a key fumble in the fourth quarter, opening the door for the Broncos’ comeback.
Twenty-six-year-old Gronkowski leads all NFL tight ends with 931 receiving yards through 11 games. His 57 receptions rank second behind Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans, and his nine touchdowns are also second as the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert leads all tight ends with 12 trips to the end zone.
In real time, the Stewart hit on Gronkowski may have appeared to be illegal to some, but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady defended the play, as reported by Pro Football Talk.
“I hate to see it, but it’s really the only way for defenders to hit now. I bet if you asked a lot of players they’d probably rather you go high than low. You go low, that’s what happens. I don’t think it’s dirty, I just think that’s the way football is being played now.”
New England will now rely on Scott Chandler to fill some of the void left by Gronkowski. Chandler is in the midst of his first season as a member of the Patriots after spending the first five years of his career with the Buffalo Bills. The former Iowa Hawkeye had his best game of the year by far Sunday in Denver, hauling in five passes on 11 targets for 58 yards and a touchdown. It was the third touchdown of the season for Chandler, who, at six-foot-seven and 260 pounds, has similar measurables to Gronkowski, but he’ll now need to attempt to measure up in performance in his absence.
Gronkowski wasn’t the only elite tight end that went down with an injury on Sunday. Seahawks’ star Jimmy Graham was lost for the season with a knee injury in their thrilling home victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This isn’t the first time Gronk has been bitten by the injury bug either. He was lost for the year both in 2012 and 2013, playing in just 18 games in those two seasons combined.
The Patriots now sit at 10-1 after the loss to Denver and will close out the season at home against the Eagles, at Houston, back to Foxboro for a date with the Titans, and then back to back road games against the Jets and Dolphins to close out the regular season.
[Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]