The play happened at 1:36 of the second quarter. It was simple, really. Rob Gronkowski lined up on the left side of the line, next to Michael Hoomanawanui. When the ball was snapped, Gronkowski ran a short slant route and caught Tom Brady’s pass at the 26-yard line.
What proceeded from there was Gronkowski looking like the All-Pro tight end of old.
As the 25-year-old stomped down the sideline, he gained an additional 13 yards after his catch. The last five of those yards were the most impressive. Gronkowski plowed over any defender in sight. It took four defensive players — Charles Woodson, Carlos Rodgers, Kaluka Maiava and Khalil Mack — to bring him down.
Coming back from knee surgery isn’t easy, and Gronkowski has shown plenty of rust during the first three weeks of the season. But against the Raiders, the tight end showed that he’s trending upward.
“I think that Rob has definitely made some plays for us, and we certainly think that will continue, and hope that will continue,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “We’ve tried to work him back into the game plan and to an overall level where he can contribute the most. I think each week, we’ve done a little bit more, and hopefully we can continue to do that. I think that anytime you’re talking about a player who is coming off of a situation like Gronk was, you just have to be smart and you do what you can do. I’ve been happy with the things that he’s done so far and hope to continue to add more as we go through the year.”
We reported Monday that Gronk's snaps were up in Week 3 from the previous two weeks, a pattern similar to last season when Gronk was coming back. He's still gets a high ranking every week on our TE list, and is worth starting due to his presence in the red zone, which seems to be part of his limited workload through the first three weeks. He seems to be trending up which is great news for owners.