New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is finally cleared to play, although his status for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets remains the same as it has been throughout the season — questionable.
Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, sent a text message to media outlets Friday, writing: “Rob has now been cleared by all his doctors to play Sunday in the Jets game.”
Gronkowski, who has had offseason back surgery and four operations to repair a broken forearm, has been practicing for several weeks but has not played in a game this season because he was waiting to get clearance from doctors to play.
That finally happened Friday.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said only that Gronkowski will appear on the injury report. Gronkowski has been listed as questionable throughout the season, and that was the case again Friday.
Gronkowski’s playing status has been controversial. Rosenhaus said Thursday that the tight end had not been cleared by team doctors, including Dr. James Andrews, whom the Patriots hired as an independent physician. Multiple reports last week said Gronkowski’s unwillingness to play was causing a rift in the locker room.
However, quarterback Tom Brady disputed that this week, saying there was no issue with Gronkowski and other players and the team knows he will play “when he’s ready.”
Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin/concussion) was ruled out for Sunday’s game. Amendola has been dealing with the groin since Week 1, but was knocked out of last Sunday’s game against New Orleans on a hit to the head at the end of a run.
The Jets know the road to the AFC East title goes through New England and they have a chance to take a step in that direction when they host the divison-leading Pats at 1 p.m. The Jets sit two games behind the Patriots and have lost the last six meetings, including a three-point loss at New England in Week 2. Rookie Geno Smith and New York have been unable to put together back-to-back wins and were throttled in a 19-6 home loss to Pittsburgh last week.
The Patriots rebounded from their lone loss with a dramatic victory last week, getting a touchdown pass from Brady with five seconds to play to overcome then-unbeaten New Orleans. The victory came at a high price, however, as the Patriots lost linebacker and leading tackler Jerod Mayo for the season with a torn pectoral muscle and saw wide receiver Amendola and cornerback Aqib Talib also exit with injuries. Neither player is expected to be available this week.
TV: 1 p.m. CBS.
ABOUT THE JETS (3-3): New York limited the Patriots to 232 total yards and kept Brady under wraps in the 13-10 Week 2 loss, but Smith cost his team any chance at victory by throwing three fourth-quarter interceptions. Smith threw a career-high three touchdown passes in a 30-28 upset at Atlanta on Oct. 7, but he was picked off twice last week — his fourth game with multiple interceptions. The Jets’ defense has been exceptional, ranking second in rushing yards allowed (75.7) and fourth in total yards (303.8) and sacks (20).
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (5-1): Brady continues to work with a patchwork wide receiver corps led by Julian Edelman, who had 13 of his 41 receptions in Week 2. Stevan Ridley has struggled for much of the season but provided a spark to the running game last week with 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Mayo joining perennial Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wolfork on the sidelines, the Patriots’ 24th-ranked run defense is vulnerable.
GAME NOTES: The Patriots have won the last two meetings in New Jersey by a combined 51 points. … Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson needs one sack to surpass last season’s career high of five. … Brady, who is 18-4 in the regular season versus the Jets, needs one TD pass to eclipse Fran Tarkenton (342) for fourth on the all-time list.