The New England Patriots are "not optimistic" that tight end Rob Gronkowski will make his season debut against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported on Thursday.
Last week, a report said that Gronkowski was "50-50" to play in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he did not end up playing. A week later, Gronkowski has participated on a limited basis in practice for the last two days, but the team is not sold that he'll be able to play.
Two weeks ago, according to a report, the Patriots were bullish about his chances of returning for Week 3, and said he would "definitely" be playing in Week 4.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has said he will welcome Grownkowski's return to his offense — and with good reason. The Patriots are 3-0, but Brady and his young receivers have struggled to click. The Patriots offense did make strides last week against the Bucs, when Brady completed passes to six different receivers and threw two touchdown passes.
Gronkowski, who has made two Pro Bowls, led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2011. He caught 11 touchdowns last season.