Rob Gronkowski was not present at the New England Patriots‘ practice on Friday. That means he has not practiced at all this week, making it extremely unlikely that he played the Patriots’ Week 11 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
No Rob Gronkowski at #Patriots practice.
— Chris Mason (@Chris_J_Mason) November 18, 2016
Rob Gronkowski not present at practice for third day in a row, making it unlikely he plays Sunday vs. 49ers, per @MikeReiss.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 18, 2016
That aligns with what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on Thursday.
Patriots not expecting Gronk to play this week. Remain hopeful he is ready for Week 12
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 18, 2016
Gronkowski suffered the injury to his lung on a huge hit from Earl Thomas during last week’s loss to the Seahawks. Gronk went over the middle to catch a pass from Tom Brady and was lit up by Thomas on the back end. The injury has alternately been described as a chest injury and a punctured lung. The Patriots do not believe it is serious, but it looks like they won’t have his services this Sunday.
Without Gronk, Martellus Bennett will presumably get the large majority of the snaps at tight end. Bennett started the first few games of the season as Gronkowski worked his way back from an injury suffered during training camp, but that was before Tom Brady returned from his four-game suspension.
The Patriots shouldn’t be in too much danger of losing to San Francisco even without Gronk, given the relative quality of the two teams, but it’s interesting to look at how the absence of Gronkowski has affected Brady’s play over the last few years. Per RotoViz.com, Brady has played 85 games with Gronk and 16 without him since the tight end entered the league in 2010. Here’s how things break down:
Brady didn’t have Bennett (arguably better than any non-Gronkowski tight end in football) in any of the previous 16 games he played without Gronkowski, but it’s worth noting how his performance has been so drastically affected in previous years.