FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Tom Brady #12 against the Indianapolis Colts into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is inching closer to returning to the field for the Patriots, and he will immediately upgrade a unit that began the season without it's top five receivers from last year, and lost No. 6, free-agent acquisition, Danny Amendola after Week 1.
Amendola's return is still unknown (we've heard anywhere from 2-6 weeks), but as of Tuesday, Gronk was reportedly looking at a 50-50 chance of playing this Sunday against the Buccaneers.
When coach Bill Belichick was asked about the prospects Wednesday, he offered this:
"We haven't practiced today. We've just been sitting in a meeting. He looks great sitting in a meeting," he said, via ESPNBoston.com.
And what does Gronk bring to an offense desperately in need of a playmaker?
"We'll see," Belichick continued. "We'll see when we get him out there."
We may have to wait until Week 4, however. According to the Boston Globe, the Pats might keep Gronkowski on the bench Sunday.
"According to a league source, Gronkowski is healthy enough to play, but the Patriots want to get him more practice time before suiting him up in a game," the Globe's Michael Whitmer wrote. "For that reason, the source said, the Patriots are leaning toward keeping Gronkowski out of Sunday's home game with the Buccaneers."
The decision is certainly in the team's long-term interests. The Bucs are a mess and even an offense as out of sync as the one we saw the Patriots put on the field against the Jets last Thursday shouldn't have any trouble handling Tampa Bay.
Which means that Brady will again have to rely on Julian Edelman and hope that rookie receivers Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce can finds ways to contribute.