Although Rob Gronkowski returned to Patriots practice from a broken arm last week, coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday that his star tight end is still “not ready yet” to play in a game. Gronkowski, who suffered the injury on Nov. 18 and was expected to miss four-to-six weeks, will not return to full-time action until he is medically cleared to play, according to Belichick.
The third-year pro caught 53 passes for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns in the season’s first 10 games. New England has won four of the five games he has missed, as tight end Aaron Hernandez returned from his own injury to post 29 receptions for 296 yards and three touchdowns over that stretch.
Belichick said that the team is evaluating Gronkowski’s injury day-by-day and the decision is fully in the hands of team doctors, according to The Boston Globe‘s Mike Whitmer.
“He did more last week than he did the week before, and we’ll see where he’s at today and tomorrow when we go out there, see what he can do,” Belichick said on Wednesday, prior to the team’s practice. “We’ll take it day-to-day, based on where he’s at. He’s moving along, not ready yet.”
“There’s nothing more important than a player’s health and safety, so when they’re cleared to play, then we make a playing decision, and if they’re not cleared to play, then there’s no decision to make.
“I don’t think that’s a decision that a coach makes or influences, that’s a medical decision if it’s a medical situation. Once it’s a competitive decision, then that’s a coach’s decision. [If it's a] medical decision, that’s made by medical people.”
The Patriots enter their season finale against the Dolphins as the No. 3 seed in the AFC, trailing the Texans and Broncos by one game.