Few would argue that even after coming off two injury riddled seasons, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is still one of the most lethal tight ends in the league, if anything on potential alone. Not only are fantasy owners anxiously awaiting the return of Gronk, so is Pats QB Tom Brady who threw ‘only’ 25 TD’s last year, his lowest total since returning from injury in 2009. Early word has it that Gronkowski may be ready for New England’s week 1 game at Miami but most people are waiting to see if he can actually stay healthy for the entire 2014 season.
The Gronk 2013
Gronkowski missed the start of the 2013 season as planned last year, recovering from four different surgeries to his forearm from November 2012 to May 2013. In June of 2013 Gronkowski also underwent a spinal surgery to address a disk problem, an ailment that had troubled him enough to miss his final year of college football. Either way Gronkowski made his 2013 debut in week 7 with little signs of wear. He grabbed 8 catches for 114 yards even though New England lost 27-30 to the Jets.
Gronkowski had a quiet second week back before erupting for a 9 catch, 143-yard performance in a 55-31 win over the Steelers. The big tight end caught a 19-yard TD pass and would go on to score in the next 4 games. The Patriots won 4 of 6 games since Gronkowski’s return heading into a week 14 matchup with Cleveland. On New England’s first play of the second half Gronkowski caught an 11-yard pass from Tom Brady and was hit low by Browns safety T.J. Ward. The play ended up tearing Gronkowski’s ACL causing him to miss the rest of the season.
All total Gronkowski caught 39 balls for 592 yards with 4-TD in 2014. Even though he played only 6-1/2 games, Gronkowski was the 17th highest scoring TE for the 2013 season which gives a nod to his potential when healthy for a full year.
2014 Gronkowski Outlook
If there’s any positive about Gronkowski getting hurt in 2013, it’s that he did it in week 14 instead of late in the playoffs. The earlier hit enabled an earlier surgery which leads to a more healing time to prepare for a full return in 2014. Unlike Gronkowski’s forearm injury which got infected and had numerous other setbacks, the knee rehab has gone as planned thus far. According to reports Gronkowski has shown up regularly to Gillette stadium and has been planting and cutting on a regular basis. He’ll likely be limited in preseason for good reason but could be a full go for Week 1.
It should be noted that even though Gronkowski is entering his 5th season in the league, he still just turned 25 at the beginning of May. Jimmy Graham remains the top TE in the NFL but Julius Thomas and the close-to-100% Gronkowski are an even match for #2.
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