It doesn't look like Rob Gronkowski will be ready to play for the New England Patriots in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, but there is absolutely no cause for alarm—both for him and for the team's offense.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Monday that his sources tell him it's "not realistic" to expect Gronk in the starting lineup when the Patriots travel to upstate New York on September 8:
It is “not realistic” to expect Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to be ready to play regular-season opener at Buffalo, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2013
In his writeup on ESPN.com, Schefter goes a bit deeper into what his sources revealed.
"It's a huge stretch to think he could play against the Bills," the source said. Despite that, another source said Gronkowski "looks great, is doing great" during his workouts at the Patriots' training facility, where he has been running and lifting.
For most teams, losing a player of Gronk's quality could be a crushing blow.
Most teams don't have Tom Brady.
If you've watched Brady and his offense make minced meat out of opposing defenses this preseason, then you already know Gronkowski's absence isn't going to doom this team's ability to put up points in bunches this year.
Working with a rag-tag group of under-the-radar rookies and Danny Amendola, Brady has put up video game numbers in limited action. He's completed 18-of-20 passes for 172 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, and the Patriots have had no trouble moving the ball at will with Brady in the game.
Rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins—an undrafted free agent—and Aaron Dobson have proven to be more than capable of making big plays and moving the chains in critical moments.
Fellow rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld—another undrafted free agent—is also making waves and is even gaining steam as a fantasy option, as noted by NFL.com's Michael Fabiano:
Tight ends on the rise - Jermichael Finley, Jared Cook, Jordan Cameron, Fred Davis, Zach Sudfeld.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) August 18, 2013
As good as Gronkowski is at catching touchdowns, he's never been a tremendous run-blocker.
Not surprisingly, the Patriots have been able to pound the ball effectively without him in the lineup this summer, too. Through two preseason games, New England has gained 387 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground.
When Gronk makes his way back to the Patriots' starting lineup, there's no doubt this offense will be more explosive—especially in the red zone.
Are you concerned about Gronkowski's slow recovery?
That said, missing him isn't going to cause New England to struggle on offense when the regular season begins in September.
Brady is simply too good.
No matter whom he's playing with, this generation's Joe Montana will find a way to put up points on the scoreboard and pile up victories in the wins column.
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