Despite reports that suggested Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski could have potentially been in the line-up Sunday night down in Atlanta, it appears neither one will be on the field against the Falcons.


Rob Gronkowski remains sidelined heading into Week 4 of the 2013 NFL Season.
(USA TODAY Images)

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, neither player made the trip with the team as New England headed down to Georgia on Saturday for Sunday night’s game, which means they’ll be watching this one the same way the fans will, on television.

Gronkowski had seemed ready to make his highly anticipated return, but according to several reports there seems to be some internal conflicts that have Gronkowski being extra cautious.  Howe reported on Saturday that the team believes he’s ready to return, but the veteran tight end’s camp is wary about having him return too soon, especially after he broke his arm in November and then re-injured it when he returned for the postseason less than two months later.

He’s had five surgeries in the past year, with four of them on his forearm alone and that’s said to be where a lot of the concern lies.  He underwent back surgery back in June, which all indications seem to point to him having successfully recovered from it.

If that is, in fact, the case, the question now seems to be is he physically ready to play, or is it a psychological issue?  It could be a situation where he’s still feeling pain or discomfort in his forearm, which may have him wary of experiencing contact.  The tough part is it’s tough to speculate because there really haven’t been any reports, other than the one last week from Ian Rapoport that suggested the issue is more to do with his arm than his back, to help makes sense of what he’s really dealing with.

Either way it looks like for now he’ll be out of the line-up this week, and we’ll have to wait another week to see if he returns for next Sunday’s road game against the Bengals, or if it will be the following week when the Patriots battle the Saints in Foxboro.  If it’s the latter, the team essentially lost the opportunity for a PUP designation for him which would have allowed them an additional roster exemption.

The fact they didn’t place him there to start the season shows they clearly felt he’d be ready to go sooner, and Howe reported that the team seemed to believe he’d be ready to return as soon as week two against the Jets.  Obviously that didn’t happen, and he’ll now have missed two additional games continuing his rehabilitation.

Fortunately the team has gone 3-0 during his absence, so they’ve been able to overcome not having him on the field.  Unfortunately now the competition and the schedule is starting to get a little tougher, and having him back would certainly make them better.  

Ultimately it’s his body and his own future he holds in his hands, and it’s hard not to respect him for holding his ground if he truly feels he’s not where he needs to be just yet. He’s signed through 2018, so it’s important when he comes back that he’s healthy and can go back to being a reliable and productive player. Hopefully this extra rest helps him, so at least when he does return, it will be for the long-term.