After battling a hamstring injury for weeks, tight end Rob Gronkowski will not be able to play this week when the New England Patriots open the season against the Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday Night Football. The Patriots confirmed the news on Friday night after it was reported that Gronkowski didn't travel with the team.
Gronkowski was limited in practice throughout the week and had been officially listed on the team’s injury report as questionable for Sunday’s game. He told reporters that his status for Sunday would be a coaches’ decision, and they have determined he’s not physically able to play.
In an unusual turn of events, especially for a Patriots player, Gronkowski even went so far as to admit that he was not 100 percent from the "hammy thing" he suffered in a joint practice against the Chicago Bears during training camp. The hamstring injury kept him sidelined for three weeks.
Gronk is the best tight end in the NFL, and after exceeding 1,000 receiving yards in each of his past two seasons, it’s clear that it’s impossible to duplicate what he brings to the Patriots offense. New England is in better shape at tight end, though, after signing Martellus Bennett this offseason. If Gronkowski isn’t at full strength, Bennett can help pick up the slack.
Last season in 11 games with the Bears, Bennett had 53 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns. In 2014, Bennett’s best season, he had 916 receiving yards and six touchdowns.