As the weeks have passed and reports periodically have pointed to the possibility that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will play, we’ve consistently heard that he’s not ready.
And he consistently hasn’t been.
We’re now hearing that the team and Gronkowski’s camp aren’t at odds regarding his status, contrary to a report that they are.
The more likely explanation is that the Patriots are creating the impression, or allowing it to exist, that Gronkowski is getting closer to playing, forcing their weekly opponents to account during game planning for his possible presence on the field.
As the schedule creeps toward Week Six, the Patriots will invite criticism for shifting Gronkowski from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster, since leaving him on the PUP list would have knocked him out for only six weeks of the regular season.
But two weeks remain until Week Six ends, against quality opponents (the Bengals and Saints). If Gronkowski plays in either or both games, it arguably will be worth using one of 53 roster spots (and one of seven non-playing positions) on him.
Then there’s the fact that Gronkowski has been able to practice for the past four weeks. On PUP, his permissible activities would be much more limited.
At some point, his activities will include playing in games. So far, the Pats have won three without him.
The next three will be harder to win without him.