New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, recovering after a series of surgeries on his fractured forearm and ailing back, still has not been cleared to play by Dr. James Andrews, according to ESPN and media reports. Moreover, there was less optimism Friday that he will play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints than there was earlier in the week.
Andrews is serving as an independent physician charged by the team and player with determining whether Gronkowski is cleared to play. Andrews is considered the most accomplished orthopedic surgeon in the world, but he didn't operate on Gronkowski.
Gronkowski also still has not been cleared by Dr. Jesse Jupiter, who performed the latest forearm surgery on Gronkowski, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Unless there is significant movement by Saturday, owners should assume that Gronk won't play against the Saints on Sunday. The 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff complicates matters. Colts TE Coby Fleener and Redskins TE Jordan Reed would be a good Plan Bs for owners who want to wait to see if Gronk is inactive. Titans TE Delanie Walker and Seahawks TE Luke Wilson (if Zach Miller is out) also play late on Sunday.