Rob Gronkowski will probably be lining up in his usual spot at tight end on Sunday night at U.S. Bank Stadium for the New England Patriots’ first offensive snap of the Super Bowl.
It’s a good sign for the Patriots that Gronkowski practised on Wednesday, as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered when Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church hit him hard in the helmet with time running out in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game on January 21.
“Gronkowski was limited in the session and though it was initially reported that he wore a red non-contact jersey during the session, [Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick later clarified that that was not the case,” CBS Boston reported on Wednesday.
The next sentence was more worrying, potentially, for anyone of a Patriots persuasion. “However, Gronkowski has not yet been cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol.”
Gronkowski sounded confident on Tuesday evening that he would be healthy to suit up on Sunday. When asked when he thought he would be given clearance to play, he said: "Hopefully by tomorrow [Wednesday]. We'll see how it goes and what the doctors say. I'm not the guy to say I'm out of the protocol. That is the doctor's call."
But Wednesday came and went and Gronkowski hadn’t been cleared by the independent neurologist—the final step necessary for him to participate in an NFL game.
Gronkowski has been laughing and joking all week, playing Madden with his friend and former teammate LeGarrette Blount and generally being "Gronk"—the big-bodied tight end with a bigger personality.
But the Patriots need him to be cleared soon with time running out until the Super Bowl. CBS reported that the Patriots would practice again on Thursday before walk-throughs on Friday and Saturday. So Gronkowski still has time to be cleared for the game. But it isn’t unlimited.