On some Mondays, Patriots coach Bill Belichick provides an unintentionally humorous example of his staunchly monotonous name, rank, and serial number approach to football when reciting the same answer, over and over, in response to a given question.
This year, the focal point has been tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose status has resulted in a flat-line chorus of “he was inactive” and “day-to-day” from the head coach.
This week, Belichick matter-of-factly downplayed talk of a schism between player and team, which reportedly has emerged based on Gronkowski’s consistently strong performances in practice and his persistent inability to play.
“[U]ltimately the players have to be cleared medically before we can put them in the game,” Belichick told reporters, via quotes distributed by the team. “There are a lot of players that practice that aren’t ready to play yet, but they’re ready to participate in practice. That’s pretty common.”
Belichick also addressed the process for putting a player on the active game-day roster.
“I would say there are a lot of things that go into it, a combination obviously of medical clearance and making up the active roster for the 46 guys,” Belichick said. “Each week, we go through the process with all the players and do what we feel like is best for the team. Obviously, medical considerations are a big part of it, so we’ll do that with every player.”
While we wouldn’t expect Belichick to admit to the existence of any frustrations with Gronkowski, Belichick’s explanation makes plenty of sense. Clearance to practice remains much different than clearance to play, especially after the 2011 CBA significantly restricted in-season padded practices.
The best news for the Patriots is that, despite all the flaws and issues an injuries, they’re 5-1. When Gronkowski returns, they’ll only get better.