What would it take to prevent Rob Gronkowski from returning to New England to face his former team?
Broken bones, apparently.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end has "multiple broken ribs" that could keep him out several weeks, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday.
UPDATE (Sunday, Oct 3, 1:15 p.m. ET): Gronkowski told FOX Sports' Jay Glazer he has "four cracked ribs, one broken rib and a punctured lung" from the injury he suffered in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
The severity of Gronkowski's injury explains why he'll miss Sunday night's highly-anticipated game against the Patriots. It also explains why he won't even make the trip, as the flight to New England would exacerbate his rib injury, per Schefter.
Given the nature of his injury, it's remarkable that Gronkowski was even listed as doubtful Friday instead of out. It sounds like the 32-year-old did everything he could to try to make the trip.
"We held out hope all week that Gronk would be ready," a team source told Schefter. "He's a different breed."
Gronk's absence means Tom Brady will make his New England return without his longtime tight end, who has four touchdown catches through three games. The Bucs also are without running back Giovani Bernard, so Brady will be down a couple weapons at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.