As if this week wasn't bad enough for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski missed his second practice in three days on Thursday. My initial reaction was not to worry because Gronkowski had obviously not been 100% over the past few weeks, and Belichick was just giving him some extra rest. However, my perspective would change when it was released that the Patriots added another ailment to Gronk's list of injuries.
Pats fans knew that Gronk would still be dealing with the knee injury that happened in the Denver game, but it has been a while since we heard about a back problem with 87. In 2009, after getting three different medical opinions, it was determined that Gronk had a badly ruptured disk which was causing damage to the nerves in his spinal cord. He then had surgery on his back, causing him to miss 13 games at Arizona. Although this was 7 years ago, it definitely seems like an injury that can cause major problems again in the future.
With Gronk's back injury now looming in the background for the Pats, there are two questions that remain unanswered. How did Gronk hurt his back? Did he actually hurt his back, or is this Belichick playing games with the media and Kansas City?
With two weeks off, we expected the Patriots players to rest up and regain some health, not compile more injuries onto an already fragile offense. The only explanation I can come up with for the back injury is that Gronk hurt his back while he was in Florida. There were a number of fans snapping pics of him on the flight down there or poolside at his hotel, so it was no secret where he was. With so much time off and limited football being played, the Sunshine State seems to be the most plausible explanation for this surprising injury.
The other explanation is that Bill and Rob are sitting in the locker room, refreshing Twitter and laughing at the state of panic that's surrounding New England. The only thing Belichick loves more than football is messing with people's heads, and this could be the situation with this revised injury report. A lot of people are now saying that Gronkowski isn't going to be anything but a decoy on Saturday, but with two weeks off, I find that very hard to believe. Even with the severity of his past back injury, it seems pretty unlikely that Gronkowski did anything strenuous enough to re-aggravate a 7 year old injury.
The way that Gronkowski and his family handled the knee injury makes it clear that they are concerned about his future with this team and this league. The Patriots have rushed him back from injury before, and we all know how that ended up. He is owed $21.25 million base salary, over the next three years and this might be his way of saying that he wants to play long enough to earn all that money.
We have all seen what happens to this team when they have Gronkowski in the playoffs versus when they don't, and no Pats fans wants to see the latter of the two. If I had to guess, I would say it is another mind game being played by Belichick, and Patriots nation will take a deep breath when Brady throws a floater to the back corner of the end zone and 87 comes down with it.
Gronkowski was limited at practice today and is officially listed as "Questionable" for Saturday's game. Others that are questionable include Edelman, Amendola, Hightower, Vollmer and C. Jones.
By Matt Watts