50-50 per cent chance he returns this weekend according to sources.
The New England Patriots are hopeful that tight end Rob Gronkowski could return for the weekend clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 24-year-old has been practising for weeks and according to an ESPN source there is a 50-50 chance that he will take his place in the line-up against the Buccaneers next weekend.
While the Patriots have seemingly fared well in his absence, winning both of their opening games, quarterback Tom Brady has been left visibly frustrated after struggling to get production from his support cast.
The Patriots offensive line-up consists of three rookie wide receivers and an undrafted rookie tight end, and with three top receiving targets missing last Thursday, Brady and New England struggled their way to a 13-10 win over the New York Jets.
The 36-year-old completed less than 50 per cent of his passes and ran an offense that converted just 4 of 18 third downs and had more punts than first downs.
Should Gronkowski return their efforts will undoubtedly change for the better, and it is hoped that he can complete a full recovery after missing both preseason and the start of the campaign due to surgery on his back and forearm in the summer.
Speaking to WEEI Radio in Boston on Wednesday, Brady compared his tight end’s absence as being similar to a baseball team losing its ace pitcher.
“He’s a great player and he helps in the run game and the pass game, provides a level of toughness for our team, and he’s been a really consistent player when he’s been out there, so it’s really — it’s hard to replace him, there’s only one Gronk,” he said.
It remains to be seen how Gronkowski fares for the remainder of the week, but Brady will be relieved to see him back out on the field in the coming weeks.