By: Jake Mackey
After all speculation of a Rob Gronkowski holdout was squashed when it was reported yesterday that he was at the facility rehabbing from a minor shoulder injury, we can all now assume that Rob Gronkowski will be wrapped in bubble wrap until opening night in Arizona if Bill Belichick feels that it is necessary.
The sentiment in Foxborough during the Belichick era is that no player is above the team. However, Rob Gronkowski has been the one outlier to that notion the last few seasons. Since Gronkowski broke his arm in November of 2012, Gronkowski has not played in one preseason game. In 2013 he was rehabbing from multiple offseason surgeries, 2014 it was the ACL, and last summer, Belichick just did not want to risk it.
It isn’t just in preseason games, Belichick holds Gronkowski out of training camp drills as well. During practices he mostly just catches passes from Brady on occasion, and when 11 on 11’s go live, Gronk stays on the sideline. Some football old-timers and purists get annoyed by this. “How is he going to stay fresh, it makes him look like he is above the rest of the players!” is something you will hear from the old time football writers.
From a fan’s perspective, I am perfectly fine with Gronk sitting out from all on the field activities until opening night, because the numbers simply speak for themselves. He has 154 receptions in the past two seasons, with 23 touchdowns. In addition, in 2011, 2012, and 2013 his injuries or absences due to injury were the main reason for the Patriots falling short of another championship.
In 2014, when he was fully healthy for the entire season he brought in 82 receptions, for 1124 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Not to mention a touchdown in each of the Patriots three postseason games. In 2015, in two postseason match ups Gronk racked up 15 receptions, for 227 yards, and three touchdowns. Those performances included Gronkowski single-handedly putting the offense on his back in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship and almost leading them to victory.
(GIF Credit: thebiglead.com)
The two most important players on the Patriots roster behind Tom Brady are Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, who are equals. The offense needs those two players in order to function. We saw that last season when Julian Edelman went down, the offense went to shambles. The multiple times that Rob Gronkowski has been injured, the offense has not looked nearly as effective, and it has cost the team in January.
Wrap Gronk in bubble wrap, stick him in the film room and weight room, and then let him suit up week one when you really need him. Preseason and training camp has gotten to the point where the seventh year veteran can take a rain check.