NFL

Rob Gronkowski Medically Cleared to Play Sunday vs. New York Jets

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2013

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has reportedly received full medical clearance ahead of the team's Week 7 game against the AFC East rival New York Jets.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus told Pro Football Talk that Gronkowski was finally given the green light by all of his doctors:

Rosenhaus stopped short of saying Gronkowski will definitely play in Sunday's game, as that is ultimately up to the Patriots and the star tight end. But medical clearance was the final major hurdle in the recovery process.

Head coach Bill Belichick, in typical fashion, would only say the team is going to list the injuries at the end of the day, reports Nick Underhill of MassLive.com.

One thing's for sure: the New England offense sorely needs him. Tom Brady hasn't looked anywhere near his usual dominant self without his favorite red-zone target carving up defenses in the middle of the field on a weekly basis.  In 22 trips inside an opponent's red zone this year, the Pats have just nine touchdowns. 

Gronkowski's combination of size and athletic ability make him one of the toughest players to cover for opposing defenses. And without holding that advantage, moving the ball through the air has been a much tougher task for the Patriots.

The 24-year-old tight end has been sidelined by injuries to his forearm, which has become a recurring problem, and back.  He's had multiple surgeries on his forearm and back and also dealt with a staph infection. Plenty of speculation in recent weeks has been dedicated to when he would return, which seemed to become a distraction.

Once he gets back on the field, all of that talk should finally fade away, and the focus will shift back to the impact he makes. Last season, Gronkowski caught 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns despite playing in just 11 games.

It might take him a couple of weeks to get back up to full game speed, but his mere presence in the lineups should provide a noticeable boost to the New England offense.

Patriots fans should wait for official word from the team that Gronkowski is returning to face the Jets before starting to celebrate, but things are finally looking up for the tight end's availability.

 

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