Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago but he's not being ruled out for the game Sunday against the Bears, according to multiple reports.
Gronkowski popped up on the injury report with a back issue for the first time this week on Friday. He had been limited by an ankle injury earlier this season but has played in all six Patriots regular-season games.
Gronkowski was not made available to reporters following Sunday's win over the Chiefs, but he spoke with Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran briefly. Gronkowski later spoke to reporters on Monday and Wednesday. I also caught up with him on Friday for a few minutes.
In none of those media interactions did Gronkowski indicate that he was dealing with a serious ailment. On Wednesday I asked him how he felt.
"Feeling good," he said. "It's football."
No limitations because of his injured ankle, which has had him on the injury report for weeks?
"No," he said. "I feel good."
Our interaction Friday focused on the postgame chat he had with Tom Brady following the win over the Chiefs. Our photographer Glenn Gleason got video of the pair chatting briefly and Brady saying "forever . . . You know that, you know that," followed by Gronkowski saying "appreciate it."
Gronkowski told me the back-and-forth was a byproduct of Gronkowski seeking out his quarterback to thank him for going to him late in the game. Gronkowski hauled in a pair of long catches to help the Patriots beat the Chiefs, including what was essentially a game-winning completion to set up Stephen Gostkowski for a chip-shot game-winning field goal.
If Gronkowski can't play, as is suspected, the Patriots will likely lean on Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister at tight end. Hollister is dealing with a hamstring injury that has him questionable for Sunday.
The Patriots could also cut back on their tight-end usage overall if Gronkowski can't go, relying on their backs and receivers to move the football against one of the NFL's stingiest defenses through six weeks.
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