Rob Gronkowski may be ready to suit up for the New England Patriots after sitting since January to recover from forearm and back surgeries. Speaking on SporsCenter, ESPN's Chris Mortensen said that the Patriots are "leaning 60-40" in favor of playing the tight end during this weekend's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Mortensen also said that Gronkowski is looking noticeably thinner.
Gronkowski addressed the weight issue with NFL.com's Albert Breer:
Asked about his weight during rehab, Gronkowski said "I'm either looking skinny or feeling jacked." Said he was skinny, now getting jacked.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 25, 2013
As for Gronkowski's potential return to the playing field, there is still no official word from the Patriots' camp whether or not he will be back against the Falcons. Bill Belichick could only muster a "we'll see" when asked about the tight end's status, according to Christopher Price of WEEI.com. Belichick did add that Gronkowski has "definitely made progress," which is the closest thing to an informative update as one will ever hear from longtime Pats head coach.
Decreased bulk or no, Gronkowski's return should be a big boost to Tom Brady and a Patriots passing attack that hasn't performed up to the team's typically high standards this season. The team saw improved production out of rookie wideout Aaron Dobson as well as the emergence of Brandon Bolden as a viable receiving threat out of the backfield against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. That said, a 225-yard passing performance by Brady won't erase the memory of an ugly drop-filled Week 2 win over the New York Jets.