The New England Patriots issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the condition of tight end Rob Gronkowski’s right knee, saying his playing status is week to week after suffering a bone bruise/sprain during Sunday night’s game in Denver.
Gronkowski was injured during the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 30-24 overtime loss to the Broncos.
“During Sunday night’s game, Rob Gronkowski sustained a bone bruise/sprain of his right knee. His status will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis and listed accordingly on the practice participation and injury reports,” the Patriots said in the statement. “There is no timetable for his readiness to return, which will be determined in the days or hours prior to the appropriate game. Any timetable reported prior to that final determination would be speculative.”
ESPN footage showed Gronkowski walking from the X-ray room to the Patriots’ locker room with a slight limp, but on Monday, reports indicated that the injury was not serious and he could return to the field as early as Sunday night at Houston.
An MRI confirmed that Gronkowski has a bruised right knee but no tears, a source told ESPN on Monday.
Gronkowski was in the locker room walking around as reporters entered but did not answer questions after the Broncos handed the Patriots their first loss of the season.
Gronkowski cut through bad weather and the Denver defense to make six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown before being knocked out of the game.
The injury occurred with 2:49 remaining in the fourth quarter when Broncos defensive back Darian Stewart hit Gronkowski low on an incomplete pass. Gronkowski’s leg whipped back as it made contact with Stewart.
Gronkowski has dealt with injuries in the past. He broke his forearm on Nov. 18, 2012, and tore his ACL on Dec. 8, 2013.
“He has been through a lot. He is a tough guy,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday.
Meanwhile, it has been a full calendar year since head coach Bill Belichick’s New Patriots (10-1) have had to deal with a real loss.
While New England dropped the 2014 season finale to the Buffalo Bills, it was a meaningless game that saw rookie Jimmy Garoppolo get his feet wet in the second half.
No, the last time the Patriots faced true defeat was exactly one year ago — Nov. 30, 2014 in a 26-21 hard fought loss at Green Bay.
As much as the team was disappointed with Sunday night’s loss, it may be bolstered by the report of Gronkowski not being lost for the season.
Even if Gronkowski is lost for just a game or two — the Patriots host the Eagles on Sunday and then will travel to the Texans for another Sunday night affair on Dec. 13 — it’s the latest in a long list of ailments that have cut into Brady’s core of pass catchers.
Pass-catching back Dion Lewis (ACL) is on injured reserve and Julian Edelman (foot) could be out until the postseason following surgery. Danny Amendola (knee) missed last week and could remain sidelined for a group that also saw little-used third-year receiver Aaron Dobson (ankle) land on IR.
As such, a New England offense that had topped 30 points in six consecutive games has now been at 27 or fewer in four straight, including two one-score wins and the team’s first loss of the season on Sunday night.
New England is in the unfamiliar spot of losing on the scoreboard as well as the familiar spot of losing yet another player to injury. Dealing with the latter will make it more difficult to overcome the former and move forward, but next-man-up is a way of life in Foxborough, as it is in pretty much all 32 NFL cities by this point in the season.
“I’ve been in the NFL long enough to know it’s part of the deal,” tight end Scott Chandler said. “Injuries don’t always pick who they come upon. It happens to everyone and you’ve got to be ready to move on as a team and have the next guy step up and make plays. I think if you sit there and dwell on it, it might (be overwhelming), but we can’t do that. We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to move on.”
Said cornerback Malcolm Butler: “When you’re out there, it’s a 100 percent risk you can get injured. You don’t want those things to happen, but it’s next man up and you just have to keep on moving.”
That’s becoming easier said than done with each passing week in New England, and for the first time in a year it resulted in a loss.