Earlier this off-season, Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots had to leave practice early when he aggravated a hamstring injury. This is believed to be the same leg injury that hampered Gronkowski and the New England offense in late 2015. He was listed as questionable on New England’s first injury report, and will probably play against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday night.
The New England Patriots Should Rest Rob Gronkowski
While Gronkowski could play this Sunday, that doesn’t mean he should. Gronkowski’s biggest red flag coming out of college was that he was injury-prone. He lost an entire season to a back injury in college, and has missed a combined sixteen games due to injures in the NFL. While a nagging hamstring injury isn’t as bad as a torn ACL or a back injury, it could hamper him as the season goes on.
With quarterback Tom Brady already suspended for the first four games of the season, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots should consider resting Gronkowski. With third year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo making his first start in prime-time against a scary Cardinals defense, the Patriots are probably going to lose the first game of the season.
They’ll likely struggle against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans in week three as well. In all honesty, Garoppolo and the Patriots could very well start the season 0-4. When Tom Brady returns, he’ll be well rested and out for blood.
The Patriots were undefeated last season before Rob Gronkowski injured his knee. They ended up losing three of the last five regular season games, and failed to defeat the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship. So why risk Gronkowski’s health in games that they’ll likely lose anyway?
The New England Patriots should either limit Gronkowski’s snaps or keep him inactive until he’s completely healed or Brady returns from his suspension. The Patriots are trendy Super Bowl favorites this season, and it’s hard to imagine them pulling that off if Gronkowski spends too much time on the injury report. The Patriots could still end up winning the AFC East despite starting 0-4 because they are that good and the rest of the division is that bad.
There’s always the possibility that Jimmy Garoppolo is better than we think he is. There’s a possibiliy that he can successfully lead the team while Brady is away. If this is true, then he would also need Gronkowski. There’s no question that Gronkowski is among the greatest tight ends in NFL history, and that any quarterback would be lucky to have him.
Frankly, Bill Belichick has a big decision to make. Does he protect his star tight end and let him rest? Or does Belichick risk worsening the injury to potentially win some games without Tom Brady? Only time will tell.