As incredible as it might sound, Rob Gronkowski, injuries and surgeries haven’t been an issue at all for the New England Patriots so far this offseason, which means that they might finally have their star tight end ready to go, 100% healthy, when the 2014 NFL season begins.
Last year it was all about when Gronkowski will be ready to play as his back and elbow problems simply wouldn’t go away, having to go through multiple surgeries until it was all fixed. During the season, he put up some nice numbers in the seven games he did play before tearing his ACL and MCL in early December against the Cleveland Browns, once again taking Tom Brady’s number one target off the field.
The Patriots themselves? They aren’t talking about his status, remaining tight-lipped as ever about a player who has a total of 18 appearances over the last couple of seasons, missing both postseason campaigns for the team. As Tom Brady is in evident decline, the role of Gronkowski as a bail out and default option for the team has become more and more important. However, since his breakout 2011 campaign, he simply hasn’t been on the field nearly enough for the Patriots to make full use of him.
Paul Perillo of Patriots.com writes that there doesn’t seem to be anything that’s holding back Gronkowski from playing in week 1 or from fully taking part in training camp and preseason. However, past experience tells us that injury prone players always find a way to miss some games, and even a completely healthy Gronkowski is a risk that might be relied upon too much.
Either way, with Brady still capable of being elite from time to time and Bill Belichick calling the shots, the Patriots will remain a force in the AFC, hoping that Gronkowski is finally healthy enough to give them that edge to do something special in the postseason.