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It appears that Rob Gronkowski may not be making his return to Foxborough against the Patriots on Sunday night after all, after The Athletic Buccaneers reporter Greg Auman reported on Friday that Gronkowski is doubtful to play with a ribs injury.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter is now reporting that Gronkowski did not travel with the team to New England and is officially out.
The Buccaneers tight end suffered the injury during Tampa Bay’s Week 3 34-24 loss to the Rams. Gronkowski took a direct shot to his ribs and headed to the locker room to be examined. He returned during the third quarter but was clearly in pain.
X-rays on Gronkowski’s ribs were negative on Monday, but he did not practice in full this week. He was listed as a limited participant during Friday’s practice, although he was only stretching and wasn’t in pads.
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Tight end’s Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard should see an uptick in playing time and targets in his absence. The Buccaneers offense will be far from 100 percent on Sunday night, as running back Giovani Bernard and receiver Scotty Miller are out as well.