BOSTON (CBS) – Will Gronk play Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons?
It’s the question Patriots’ fans are asking this week, and the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Wednesday night to try to figure it out.
All signs point to a possible return after Gronkowski was “probable” for Week 3’s game against the Buccaneers, but we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out for sure.
“I think there’s a real chance he could play. There’s been no definitive word yet, but going back to the timetable after his surgery in June it seemed like this was going to be the week,” said Howe. “If he doesnt play, then you have to start wondering where something went wrong; was there a setback somewhere or is there a conflict somewhere? I think that will all come early next week if he doesn’t play on Sunday night.”
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Gronk’s return will certainly go a long way in helping the Patriots get out of their funk in the red zone.
“He’s been the best red zone target since he came into the league in 2010. He has 30 touchdowns inside the red zone, and the next closest is 21 from any sort of pass catcher; that just shows how dominant he has been in that area,” said Howe.
But missing Gronk isn’t the only thing that has caused the Patriots’ red zone woes. They have made plenty of mistakes inside the 20, which Howe says should be corrected soon.
“You look at it in other simple ways; Brady isn’t going to botch many snaps from the 3-inch line, and isn’t going to throw too many interceptions from inside the 5-yard line either. Things like that, they will correct,” he said. “But the complimentary players need to show up too…. Getting (Gronkowski) back sucks in a lot of the coverage and should open up one-on-one matchups for the other guys, but the rookies still have to get open.”
The rookie receivers looked better against the Buccaneers, so it’s unlikely the Patriots will pursue a veteran receiver via trade. But Howe wouldn’t rule it out just yet.
“I just think its a slim chance at this point. People want to talk about Josh Gordon, but the reports out of Cleveland are he’s not moving. Who else is really out there? Nate Washington and Kenny Britt have had issues in the past, and do you really want to bring them into the environment after the off-season you just had?,” he said. “They’ve invested so much, and this goes into why they havent brought in a Branch, Stallworth and Gaffney. They’ve spent so much time and assets into these young receivers that they’ve gone all in with them.”
“I thought this last week was important with their development too. When you look at how stagnant they were in Week 1 and Week 2, they had three walk-throughs. There was a reason their timing and space wasn’t where it should have been (in that short week),” said Howe. “Then you see how they handle Week 2 to Week 3 where they had four practices. They had that the opportunities to get better and grow with Brady and they did. That shows the development and that this group can come together over the course of the season.”