Most of the offseason has been filled with bad news for the New England Patriots. This time, however, Tom Brady and company have received good news. Rob Gronkowski participated in full pad 11-on-11 drills today, getting one step closer to big boy 11-on-11s. When is the right time for him to return, however?
Seeing that Gronkowski just got back to full pads yesterday, and is taking part in his first actual team drills today, it would be best for the big tight end to miss Week 1 at the Buffalo Bills. Six days is not enough for him to get in game shape after spending all of the offseason rehabbing. It wasn’t too long ago when Gronkowski was rushed into playing in a playoff game against the Houston Texans, only to re-injure his arm. So now would be the perfect time for Bill Belichick to hold off from letting Gronkowski return so quickly.
The Patriots have a quick turnaround after the Buffalo game, hosting the New York Jets on Thursday night. With only three extra days to prepare, Gronkowski should be left out of this game as well. What is three days in the larger scope of things? It surely will not be long enough for him to get in game shape if he is not ready by this Sunday.
An ideal and realistic return date for Gronkowski is September 22 when the Patriots host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That way, he has an extra 10 days to get himself into shape. The game against the Bucs is also 19 days from today, which is plenty of time for Gronkowski to get re-acclimated to the football environment.
Even though every game is important, the first two contests against the Bills and Jets seem like very winnable ones. The Patriots can afford to play without Gronkowski for those two games, and it will be better in the long run if he sits out those two tilts, setting him up for what will hopefully be an injury-free future.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.