The New England Patriots have gotten a huge offensive boost before their AFC Divisional Round game against the Kansas City Chiefs, with All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski in the lineup.
Gronkowski's name was not among those on the official inactive list released by the Patriots on Twitter:
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald indicated Gronkowski will likely be limited in the contest:
Gronk woke up feeling pretty good this morning, better than expected anyway. Still supposed to be limited, but it's a good start.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 16, 2016
His status leading up to Saturday's game had been up in the air. On New England's final injury report, released Friday, he was listed as questionable with knee and back injuries.
Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported that Gronkowski "spent part of Thursday in a Boston hospital getting treatment on his injured right knee" in preparation for Saturday's game.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Kim Jones, per Rapoport's Twitter account, noted he would play through the pain. It's unclear how much New England's superstar will be limited, but having him on the field immediately forces teams to focus on him.
In 15 games during the regular season, Gronkowski led the Patriots in receptions (72), receiving yards (1,176), yards per catch (16.3; minimum five catches) and touchdowns (11). Pro Football Focus rated him as the NFL's best tight end.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have his two favorite targets on the field, with wide receiver Julian Edelman returning as well.
The Chiefs have played fantastic defense during their current 11-game winning streak, allowing 11.6 points per game after last week's shutout against the Houston Texans.
Gronkowski at less than 100 percent can still play a huge role for the Patriots, even if he's just a diversion for other playmakers, such as Edelman, to shine.