In a summer filled with bad news regarding one Patriots tight end, the other man in that set may be playing sooner than most observers thought.
Albert Breer of NFL Network is reporting that New England is leaning (significantly) toward designating Rob Gronkowski a member of the 53-man roster on Saturday rather than placing the 24-year-old on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
This would be welcome news for Patriots faithful, as a place on the PUP list would have meant Gronkowski being out the first six games of the season and unable to practice until after that sixth contest was completed. If New England does go the route of adding Gronkowski to the 53-man roster, the options open up and the tight end could see the field a lot sooner.
How much sooner exactly?
Breer is saying Gronkowski may be competing in a regular season contest by late September, but that date is far from sure.
Nonetheless, with the Patriots' most dangerous receiving target likely avoiding a PUP designation, the offense could become even more explosive soon than we thought.