The Patriots received some good news yesterday regarding their leading receiver, Rob Gronkowski. The tight end was left concussed in the AFC Championship game and has been going through the league’s mandatory concussion protocol. Doctors finally gave him the green light to play and he is officially part of the Patriots’ active roster for Super Bowl 52. With this news, expect USA Super Bowl 52 betting sites to have some more props surrounding the role player.
For New England’s style of offense, Gronkowski is a vital piece of the puzzle. It is not often the tight end leads all receivers in yards, catches and touchdowns. However, this was the case for Gronkowski and the Patriots this season. With 69 receptions, 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns, Gronk won a tight race with WR Brandin Cooks. Cooks, the new signing from the New Orleans Saints, came in second with 65 receptions, 1,082 yards and 7 touchdowns. The fact that these 2 players have such similar numbers and one is a tight end goes to show how much of an x-factor Gronk is. No other TE in the league is as much a target in the red zone. The only other player that comes to mind is Zach Ertz for the Philadelphia Eagles (meaning Super Bowl 52 will be an interesting matchup of productive tight ends).
With Gronkowski on the field, Brady always has a go-to guy. New England tends to lean on their passing game, and understandably so with the best QB in the league heading the offense. While they have a talented RB in Dion Lewis, the Patriots running game has been off. Normally this would be cause for concern, but when you have multiple targets, including a 6’6” receiver, passing becomes the safer option anyhow.
Gronk was put on the Pats’ Injury Report at the beginning of last week. This led to speculation on whether or not the talented TE would feature in his team’s biggest game of the season. Concussion protocol is the standard procedure in the NFL, but even Gronk’s camp was somewhat quiet at first. Speaking to the media, Gronk stated that he was always confident he would be able to play, it was just a matter of timing with the appropriate doctors and medical staff.
The Eagles defense was probably looking forward to a Gronk-less Super Bowl, but to be honest, it would have been foolish for them to actually consider the possibility that he wouldn’t play. You can bet that coach Doug Pederson has accounted for the TE’s presence. The defense will be busy with Gronkowski, but the main goal would be to not let him take up too much of the attention. This would lead to other receivers opening up, but that’s just part of the Gronk effect. For example, Gronk can stray towards one side and pull the safety creating open space for his teammates to wander into.
Gronk stated that he is ready to go for the Super Bowl and he is probably hungry to make a significant impact since he missed the entire second half of the AFC Championship. Brady will be looking for him from the first snap, so as long as Gronk can avoid any helmet-to-helmet hits, he should be a prime target throughout the game. After all, he is part of the reason why football betting experts consider the Patriots the favorite to win.