Gronkowski has yet to see any game time this season while recovering from offseason surgeries and the complications that came with them.
When will Gronkowski make his season debut?
The elite fantasy option was back on the practice field for Week 5, but indications about his potential for playing this Sunday when the Patriots travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals are grim.
On the official injury report, Gronk is listed as questionable after having limited participation in practice. Of course, this is the Patriots we're talking about, and if you are basing your roster on the information Bill Belichick releases on the injury report, I'd like to welcome you to fantasy football while extending an invitation to my high-stakes league.
Digging a little deeper, it becomes clear his status is a lot more doubtful than it is questionable. The well-informed Adam Schefter hits us with this news on Gronk:
One person familiar with Patriots' thinking said he's "not confident" TE Rob Gronkowski will play Sunday vs. Cincinnati.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 4, 2013
Shedding even more light on where things stand is NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:
Rob Gronkowski privately expressed a desire to return Week 6 -- next week. Accordingly, it's viewed as a longshot to play Sunday, per source— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 4, 2013
Now, I get the distinct feeling that it is difficult to get Gronkowski to do anything he doesn't want to do, and I would expect that to include when he will return to the field. Although, the 24-year-old might be taking some advice on when to return:
#Pats believe Rob Gronkowski wants to play, but his dad is keeping him off the field as a precaution after he injured himself in playoffs— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 29, 2013
Gronk did try to clear the air up on the standing between him and his team:
Still, my guess is the two parties are on the same page and that that page reads, "Gronkowski will not play Week 5."
Whenever Gronkowski does return to the field, I would start him. With the Patriots' passing game still looking for consistent weapons, quarterback Tom Brady will be all to happy to give his big tight end all of the targets he can handle. I just don't expect him to play this week.
There is certainly no harm in holding out hope until the last second that Gronkowski will play. The Patriots and Bengals play at 1 p.m. ET, so they will be with the early games. However, have a backup plan of action firmly in place if going that route because I'd be shocked if Gronk took the field.