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Rob Gronkowski injury: TE likely to play in Patriots-Bucs, per report

Rob Gronkowski exited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Week 3 game with a painful rib injury and has yet to practice this week.

But we wouldn’t advise betting against Gronk playing in Sunday night’s reunion game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Gronkowski’s rib injury is “not considered a major one” and the tight end is “likely going to play” Sunday versus the Patriots, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

“There is no way that Rob Gronkowski is missing this game,” Rapoport said, adding that Gronkowski likely will try to practice in some capacity Friday and be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Sunday will mark the first trip back to Foxboro for Gronkowski and quarterback Tom Brady since both players left New England.

While Brady’s last game at Gillette Stadium was the Patriots’ 2019 AFC Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans, Gronk hasn’t played in Foxboro since the 2018 postseason. The 32-year-old tight end retired the following offseason, only to be coaxed to Tampa Bay by Brady in 2020.

Gronkowski had his own rocky departure from New England and put the Patriots in a tough spot by delaying his retirement announcement until after 2019 free agency began, leading them to miss out on high-profile free agent Jared Cook.

Gronk is still a beloved figure in New England, though, and like Brady should get a rousing ovation from the Gillette Stadium crowd on Sunday night.

Gronkowski is off to a fast start this season with four touchdown catches in three games, so the Patriots should have their hands full with their former star tight end.

UPDATE (11:30 a.m. ET): Gronkowski indeed was present at the Bucs’ practice Friday, per The Athletic’s Greg Auman.

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