As Adam Schefter of ESPN reported, New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski did not travel with the team for their Sunday matchup against the Chicago Bears, according to Schefter's source. Though the Patriots have not officially ruled him as out, he is "highly unlikely" to play and saw limited practice due to his ankle and back injuries. The Patriots will likely have their hands full against the Bears, as 10 other players have been listed as questionable, and backup tight end Jacob Hollister has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury. In addition, defensive ends John Simon and Geneo Grissom have also been ruled out.
Though Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are known for finding the W no matter what, even when starting with no-name players, Gronkowski will surely be missed in the game. Even though this has not been his most productive season, the dynamic tight end has still been a playmaker for the Patriots. In New England's 43-40 shootout victory against the Chiefs last Sunday, Gronkowski led the air attack in yardage with three receptions for 97 yards. In the Patriots' 38-24 victory over the Colts in Week 5, Rob received the ball six times for 75 yards.
Gronkowski is a two-for for the Patriots, as he is not only their best pass-catcher, but he also is a solid blocker. If Rob does miss the game, and numerous sources have said that he will, New England will be stretched thin as they face a Bears' defense that ranks first in DVOA, fourth in points allowed per game, and 10th in yards allowed overall. The Patriots will be up to a large task without their star tight end, among the other players who are suffering from injuries. Though Bill Belichick has overcome these types of odds before, fans are certainly not giving up hope for the Sunday game.Gronkowski has a storied history with back injuries, and it was rumored before the start of the NFL season that he was going to retire. Clearly, that didn't happen, but Rob Gronkowski has been performing noticeably different this season — different for "The Gronk," as average tight ends would likely love to have his numbers that he's logged this season — and many NFL analysts feel that this will be his final season.
Regardless, hopefully the New England Patriots' tight end will fully recover from his back issues with some much-needed rest, and fans are certainly supporting Rob Gronkowski to do whatever he needs to do to become healthy again.