Rob Gronkowski Has Been Playing Through Shoulder Injury, Says Bucs' Bruce Arians

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians answered one of Sunday's biggest NFL mysteries.  

Rob Gronkowski caught his first touchdown pass as a member of the Bucs in the second quarter of his team's 38-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers. The star tight end delivered a lackluster effort for his trademark touchdown celebration, though.

Arians told reporters after the game that Gronk is battling a shoulder injury, which necessitated his left-handed spike.

Gronkowski also addressed his shoulder with Fox Sports' Erin Andrews:

He hasn't had his expected impact in Tampa Bay. Through the team's first five games, he caught 12 passes for 140 yards.

The five-time Pro Bowler looked a little more like his old self as the Bucs hammered the Packers. He finished with five catches, 78 yards and the one score.

The Packers entered Week 5 ranked 27th in opponent passer rating (107.2). Defense has been an early issue, and Sunday's game indicates it's an even bigger problem for Green Bay.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

As easy as it was to get excited about Gronkowski's reunion with Brady, thinking they'd immediately reignite the connection they had with the New England Patriots was probably unrealistic.

Injuries were one reason Gronkowski retired in 2018. As much as a year off helped him heal, all the mileage he had put on his body wasn't going away. No matter how minor, his newest shoulder injury is a reminder of how frequently he was less than 100 percent in New England.

The COVID-19 pandemic also limited the ways in which he could prepare for the 2020 campaign, both on his own and with his new team. And Gronk probably can't lean on the physical superiority he once enjoyed to cover whatever gaps he has in terms of technique and fit with Tampa Bay's scheme.

The Bucs will obviously hope Sunday represented a turning point for the future Hall of Famer.