Rob Gronkowski has practiced for the last two weeks, but his inner circle reportedly prefers to delay his return. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Injured New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola did not travel with the team to Atlanta on Saturday and will not play in Sunday night's game against the Falcons, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting.
Amendola, who was signed during the offseason to fill the shoes of slot receiver Wes Welker, has been out since Week 1 with a groin injury.
Gronkowski's situation as he recovers from offseason surgery on his forearm and back has created a divide between the Patriots and the star tight end's inner circle, according to Schefter.
Many within the organization have watched Gronkowski practice for the past two weeks, including taking hits and getting tackled, and concluded that he's ready to play. Players are even "wondering what the holdup is," Schefter is reporting.
But the 24-year-old's friends, family and advisers are viewing things differently.
But it goes beyond the Patriots' decision and to Gronkowski's circle of family, friends and advisers, who have not been as anxious as the rest of New England to have the tight end back on the field, even though he caught about 15 passes in practice as recently as Thursday, according to sources. It sets up a mystery for which only Gronkowski's inner circle would appear to have the answer.
Gronkowski's inner circle would like to ensure that Gronkowsi is fully recovered from his five surgeries in the past year -- four on his forearm, one on his back in June -- before the tight end plays again, according to sources. Their belief is that the Patriots are 3-0 without him, they're playing a non-conference game Sunday night, and there's no need to rush Gronkowski back until the doctors are fully convinced it's OK for him to return.