Gronkowski has a thigh contusion.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has a thigh contusion and is not expected to play on Thursday night vs. the Buccaneers, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Gronkowski played all 70 offensive snaps in New England's 33-30 loss to Carolina on Sunday and did not appear on the injury report on Monday nor Tuesday. Earlier Thursday, it was reported that Gronkowski was expected to play.
Gronkowski has struggled with injuries throughout his career. He hasn't played a full season since 2011, and missed a total of 19 regular-season game between 2013-16. When he does play, Gronkowski is a favorite target of Tom Brady, and his absence will shift New England's offensive strategy significantly.
Chris Hogan has emerged as a weapon on the outside and has four touchdowns on the year, but Gronkowski's absence, coupled with that of Julian Edelman, could allow defenses to key in on Hogan and Brandin Cooks. That could benefit Dwayne Allen, who will fill in at tight end for Gronkowski. Look for Brady to turn toward James White a fair amount, who serves as a safety blanket who racks up check-down receptions.
Going to Dwayne Allen from Gronk requires the Patriots to radically change what they want to do offensively. That will push more targets to Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and James White, and away from the tight end position. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is widely available no matter where you play your fantasy football, and plays a Browns defense that has surrendered multiple touchdown games to Jesse James and Tyler Kroft. If someone beat you to him, other possible replacements include, in order of importance, Evan Engram, Ben Watson, Antonio Gates, Jared Cook and Tyler Kroft. — Michael Beller