The Gronkowski Effect and How It Could Affect Giants

Christine Roy
February 04, 2012 at 10:44am ET

We may never know whether or not Rob Gronkowski's ankle is 100%. When Sunday comes around, the biggest question will be, how does he feel? But no matter what, when he's on the field, the New York Giants have to account for him.

We may never know how Rob Gronkowski's ankle actually feels but the Giants have to prepare for 100%. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Gronkowski has been one of Tom Brady's favorite targets all season. He is second only to Wes Welker in receptions (90) and has 17 touchdowns this year. And in addition to that, he's broken the NFL record for the most receiving yards (1,327) and the most touchdowns by a tight end in a season. All this, and it's only his second year in the league.

In addition to his red zone skills, Gronk's 6'6", 265lb frame is difficult for most defenders to deal with. Patriots fans likely remember the number of times we have seen him drag several defenders downfield to pick up those crucial yards after catch. There have been enough times during his short career to make you realize, this guy is a machine. The Giants have to account for his strength and know how to bring him down.

During the AFC Championship game when Bernard Pollard caused Gronkowski to roll his ankle it looked like it could have been the kiss of death. However, a quick limp to the locker room and Gronkowski was back for more. Right there he showed that he's a warrior, and no injury will keep him off the field. High ankle sprain or not, he is resilient and a key offensive factor.

The Patriots offensive line will have their hands full on Sunday. Sebastian Vollmer is going to be back in the lineup and there's invaluable experience with Logan Mankins and Matt Light. But Gronkowski is also a key part of that line. He not only catches the touchdowns, but also helps execute the run game. He is a key blocker on many plays and that's an area where his ankle could get the best of him.

The Giants defensive line is explosive. There's no doubt they are going to be physical with him and test his ankle. The position he will be in to block will put a lot more pressure on his ankle than running a route will. A route can be adjusted, but a block is at the command of the defender. Wherever those G-Men move, Gronkowski and the o-line will have to move. If Gronkowski is on the line, expect added pressure on his side.

We certainly will not know how Gronkowski is feeling before the big game. That's the Belichick way. But just because mum's the word, that doesn't make the Giants job any easier. They've got to prepare for a 100% healthy Gronkowski because otherwise, they could end up getting burned.