Speaking to reporters about his performance this season, Gronkowski called it a challenge.
"It's been more challenging, just little obstacles in the way," he said, via ESPN.com's Mike Reiss. "It's life. You have to take them on. That's what I'm doing. Just got to get back to where I need to be and just be myself when I get back, and it will all be good."
Gronkowski sat out New England's 31-17 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 9. He hasn't played 16 games since his second season in the league in 2011 and has dealt with a variety of ailments throughout his career. He played just eight games in 2016 and seven games in 2013.
When healthy, Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history.
He is a two-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro who tallied 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns last year. It was his fourth season with more than 1,000 receiving yards, and he has 448 yards and one touchdown in 2018 as the Patriots attempt to reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years.
New England can't reasonably expect anyone to replicate Gronkowski's numbers while he's sidelined, but it does have veteran Dwayne Allen to fill in at tight end. Allen has been in the league since 2012 and has had as many as eight touchdown catches in 2014, when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts.