After becoming one of the NFL's elite tight ends, Rob Gronkowski has spent much of the past two season on the sideline than on the playing field. That's because the New England Patriots star has dealt with a number of injuries.
The 25-year-old Pro Bowler has been limited to just 18 games the past two seasons and will likely open training camp on the PUP list after being limited to individual workouts at OTAs.
In January, he had surgery on a torn ACL in his right knee. He tore both his ACL and MCL in a game against the cleveland Browns last December.
At this point all signs point toward Gronk being ready to go in Week 1, but that’s really not the important part of the equation for the Patriots. Can he withstand the rigors of an NFL season and put his injury problems behind him?
Last year, Gronk didn't make his season debut until Week 7 against the New York Jets, as he was recovering from offseason surgery on his forearm. He's had four surgeries on his forearm, two on his back, one on his ankle, and just had his torn ACL/MCL repaired.
The Cincinnati Bengals were able to avoid seeing him last year, as they beat the Gronk-less Patriots in their Week 4 matchup.
The two teams will face off again In Week 5 this year, though it will be in New England, and it could include Gronk just as he's gotten his feet back under him.
Gronk's last full season came in 2011, when he caught 90 passes (124 targets) for 1,327 yards (14.7 yards per catch) and 17 touchdowns. He's the difference between the Pats having a 'good' and an 'elite' offense.