The New England Patriots need at tight end remains high on the priority list. But a major part of that need can be solved with the return of a healthy Rob Gronkowski. As NFL.com reports on April 12, the tight end remains on the right track in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.
Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL on a low hit during a Week 14 win over the Cleveland Browns. The blow delivered by safety T.J. Ward, now a member of the Denver Broncos, shattered Gronkowski's already abbreviated season and dashed hopes for the Patriots championship hopes. Without Gronkowski, quarterback Tom Brady and the offense struggled just as they did before he returned from his forearm injury.
Although the road to recovery remains long, the news is promising for Gronkowski. NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that the Patriots tight end visited with orthopedist Dr. James Andrews this week and walked away from the meeting with positive results. Not only did Dr. Andrews say Gronkowski is "right where he should be," but also gave him the green light to start jogging soon.
With the news, the Patriots are hopeful that Rob Gronkowski will be ready for the start of training camp. The optimism won't jeopardize his progress as he is expected to be "very limited" during the spring for OTAs and minicamp. It also won't be a surprise if he begins the regular season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) as he did last season.
Aware of how important a healthy Gronkowski is to the offense, the Patriots certainly learned from last season and will make sure he is fully recovered and ready to make an impact on the field. Even with a healthy Gronkowski, the team still needs to address depth at the position and find a tight end who can step in and provide at least some of the production of Gronkowski.
The team will be searching for such a tight end in the upcoming draft. Some of the tight ends on the Patriots' radar is Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz and Notre Dame's Troy Niklas. The Patriots recently lost tight end Matthew Mulligan to free agency. He signed with the Chicago Bears.