Rob Gronkowski finished out the Patriots’ Week 10 last-minute loss to the Seahawks despite a chest injury. Now there are mixed reports surrounding the nature and severity of the injury, so let’s try to clear a few things up.
On Monday afternoon, news was released that Gronk played through part of the game with a punctured lung. This sounds a lot worse than it actually is. A player can return to the field within a few weeks as long as they don’t also experience a rib fracture associated with the injury. A “punctured lung” is actually air leaking from the lung or damage to the lining of the chest, not damage to the actual lung. The chest will fix itself over time, thus he could return within a few weeks. Now, if the reports indicated a collapsed lung, that would be a different story.
The reports that Gronk’s chest injury “aren’t overly serious” sound accurate. While a punctured lung sounds like a scary injury, it’s not actually that bad. I wouldn’t rule him out for Week 11 yet. I suspect the injury occurred when Gronk took a huge hit from Earl Thomas in the second quarter, one he described as “probably one of the hardest I’ve been hit in my career.” He sat out the next five plays and was evaluated for a concussion but was able to get cleared and return to the game.
The Patriots travel to San Francisco this week, so Gronk may not be able to travel with the team. This could impact his availability to suit up on Sunday because flying is often not allowed right after this injury. If Gronkowski is inactive this week, the Patriots have Martellus Bennett, who is fully capable of filling in. When Gronkowski missed time earlier in the season because of a hamstring strain, Bennett had two 100-yard receiving games.
Knowing how Belichick and the Patriots typically report on injuries, don’t expect to hear more on Gronk’s status until much later in the week. Our best indicator on his availability will be if/when he flies to San Francisco this week.
Tony Romo is just one of many players who have played through similar injuries, and there have even been players documented who played through a partially collapsed lung. Gronk proved his toughness once again by playing through this, but it’s not uncommon in the NFL.
Download the Inside Injuries to track updates to all of these players throughout the week.