The New England Patriots received some good news before their Super Bowl 52 tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles, as Rob Gronkowski has reportedly cleared concussion protocol and should be good to play.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport broke the news:
#Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski will be at the team’s media availability today, ready to speak to reporters, I’m told. That’s an indication he’s been cleared from concussion protocol.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 1, 2018
Gronkowski was concussed after taking a shot to the head from Jacksonville Jaguars' safety Barry Church in the AFC Championship Game. The star tight end had to miss the second half, and Church was slapped with an $24,309 fine and was flagged for the hit.
This is obviously huge for the Patriots, as Gronkowski is among the game's biggest game-changers when healthy. He caught 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season, and has seven receptions, 102 yards and a touchdown through two playoff games in 2017.
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Gronkowski has rarely been healthy for playoff games, however. A bad ankle injury limited him in the Patriots' Super Bowl 46 loss to the New York Giants. He missed the 2013 and 2014 AFC Championship Games with a broken arm and a torn ACL, respectively. A back injury forced him to miss the second half of last season's run, including the playoffs.
The Patriots will need a healthy 'Gronk', as they're set to face a dangerous Philadelphia Eagles that's been among the most dominant in 2017. They finished fourth-best in both yards allowed and points (18.4 per game). The Eagles have allowed a total of just 17 points in their two playoff games.
New England enters the game as 5.5-point favorites, but the Eagles have relished the under dog story. Without star quarterback Carson Wentz (who tore his ACL in Week 14), backup Nick Foles has led an explosive Eagles offence. The team won their first NFC Championship banner in 13 years, and will look to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Eagles undoubtedly have it tougher with Gronk expected to play. It'll be fun to see how their lights out defence performs against the Patriots high-flying offence.