As if the Patriots didn’t already have enough problems heading into Week 1, it’s sounding increasingly as though their biggest weapon will not be at full speed. Teams around the NFL released their injury reports on Wednesday, and New England’s revealed tight end Rob Gronkowski was limited at practice due to a hamstring injury.
Gronkowski was diagnosed with the bad hammy after going down in practice several weeks ago, but at the time it was not believed to be serious. Guess it depends on what your definition of serious is, because not being ready to go in the season opener or even potentially being unavailable completed would be kind of a big deal.
Not having Gronkowski at 100 percent on game day would be an issue under any circumstances. Not having him at 100 percent when Jimmy Garappolo is about to make his first career start at quarterback is even more concerning. It’s not like Tom Brady will be back there and is just going to turn the practice squad talent around him into productive weapons, as we’ve seen him do so often. Garappolo is going to need all the help he can get.
If there is a silver lining here, it’s that New England went out and signed Martellus Bennett as a No. 2 tight end in the offseason. Bennett is a starting-caliber talent, and was exactly that the past four years for the Bears and Giants, hauling in 263 passes and 19 touchdowns during that span, so it’s not exactly the end of the world.
Still, Bennett is no substitute for Gronk, because there isn’t one. Gronkowski has gone over 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons and has recorded double-digit touchdowns in three of the last four. If he’s still limited on Sunday, the Patriots could have a hard time keeping up with the high-powered Cardinals.
Let’s face it, they probably are going to anyway.