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Injured Gronk Still Hurting Other Teams

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Rob Gronkowski hopes to get up and back on the field soon. Even in his absence, Gronk finds a way to frustrate opponents. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Rob Gronkowski hopes to get up and back on the field soon. Even in his absence, Gronk finds a way to frustrate opponents. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Whether or not Rob Gronkowski returns to the New England Patriots before Week 6, Bill Belichick’s decision to keep him off of the Physically Unable to Perform list was a great idea in what was yet another chess move by the head coach.

By placing him on the PUP list, Gronkowski is unable to play the first six weeks of this season, but the Patriots can still use his roster spot for someone else.

Gronkowski may get cleared to play in the first six weeks, but that may have been the plan all along. The obvious answer is that the Patriots kept him eligible so that he could return to face such tough opponents as the Falcons, Bengals and Saints. While those three games for the Patriots are supposedly against some of the best teams in the league, only the Saints have a winning record, albeit they are undefeated. Nevertheless, the Patriots have been just fine so far without Gronkowski.

The other importance of having Gronkowski on the roster is more subtle. it’s in the time wasted by  the Patriots' scheduled opponent each week. Time invested in the right preparations for a game mean winning, but time invested in the wrong preparations usually means losing.

The Patriots are so quiet about the status of their injuries that every team must plan as if Gronkowski may suit up. There was no coincidence that the Patriots left the decision on Gronkowski playing against the Falcons last Sunday until the day the team travelled to Atlanta. The delay made the Falcons put time and effort into preparing to stop Gronkowski. The joke, of course, was on them because it turned out to be wasted time during the week.

Imagine, however, if the Bengals or the Saints do not prepare for a healthy Gronk and he does play. He will go off for 100 yards receiving with ease in what would be Gronk Spike City.

By keeping Gronkowski eligible, the Patriots force opponents to assume that he will play on Sunday. By assuming that, opponents have to plan against one of the most dangerous players in the league. Even if Gronkowski does not play a down while he is on the PUP list, although I think he will, his roster spot will not be squandered.

So, a golf clap goes to Belichick. The sneaky bugger has done it again.