Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Is Gronkowski's style of play sustainable?
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tight end Rob Gronkowski is a unique football package.
At 6-foot-6 and a seemingly all-muscle 265 pounds, he's almost too fast and athletic for someone with such a build. He plays with reckless abandon and seldom leaves the field, and because of that and the beating every tight end takes in the NFL, we pondered these thoughts over the 24 hours since he was carted off with a season-ending knee injury: Is his style of play sustainable and will he ever be the same again?
A hit to the knee by the Browns' T.J. Ward ended Rob Gronkowski's season.
It's only natural to wonder if all the injuries will catch up to Gronkowski. Whenever Gronkowski undergoes surgery on his right knee, it will be his sixth procedure since November 2012, when he was first sidelined with a broken left forearm. That almost certainly sets up a situation where 2014's training camp will be similar to 2013's as his readiness will be a top storyline.
Gronkowski's medical file, specifically his prior back injury, was the biggest concern for many teams when he was coming out of the University of Arizona in 2010. What's easy to forget is that he had proven to be one of the team's most durable players in his first two NFL seasons, seldom, if ever, missing a practice. He played in every game.
At that point, Gronkowski had mostly erased any medical-based doubts, and the Patriots obviously felt his style of play could hold up because they struck a contract extension with him through 2019.
Now the picture has changed.
The forearm injury in November 2012 was a freak occurrence, coming while he was playing on the field-goal protection unit late in the contest. Few could have seen the issues ahead after that.
Still, he came back strong this year and looked like the "same old Gronk." That is, until the knee injury knocked him out, the result of a hit that could have happened to anyone. More bad luck.
So is Gronkowski's style of play keeping him off the field?
Fair question, but the more we consider it, we think the reason the 24-year-old Gronkowski finds himself in this position is less about the way he plays the game and more about an unfortunate run of bad luck and misfortune.