There’s a ‘50-50 chance’ that Rob Gronkowski returns on Sunday, report says

September 17, 2013

There is a “50-50 chance” that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski plays this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

We’re two weeks into the NFL season and there have been no shortages of story lines. Here are a few to follow:

The return of Gronk?

There is a “50-50 chance” that Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski returns to play for the New England Patriots this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to an ESPN report.

As one of the most dominant tight ends in the league, Gronkowski can be a matchup nightmare for defenses. His absence has been exacerbated by the fact that the Patriots have few proven players in their receiving corps.

Although the Patriots are 2-0, last week’s 13-10 victory over the New York Jets was marked by several dropped passes.

[Quarterback Tom] Brady has been visibly frustrated after struggling with a supporting cast that includes three rookie wideouts and an undrafted rookie tight end.

With three top receiving targets missing last Thursday, Brady struggled [last week], completing less than 50 percent of his passes and running an offense that converted just 4 of 18 third downs and had more punts (11) than first downs (9).

That could all change with Gronk, who is the NFL’s most dominant red zone player. He missed the entire preseason and the first two regular-season games following offseason surgeries on his back and forearm.

ESPN

Gronkowski started participating in full-pads practice earlier this month.

Pittsburgh off to slow start

The Pittsburgh Steelers have dropped to 0-2 after a 20-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengal on Monday night. The Steelers, who last won the Super Bowl in 2008, have amassed only 19 points in two games.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed just 20 of 37 passes for 251 yards with one touchdown and a deflected interception. The team lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker Larry Foote in last week’s 16-9 home loss to Tennessee.

“There’s not a lot of positives going on right now,” Roethlisberger said. “We can’t start doubting each other. Right now, there’s a general feeling of being upset.”

The Steelers are 0-2 for the first time since 2002 and haven’t started a season 0-3 since 1988. They play undefeated Chicago Bears (2-0) on Sunday night.

Jacksonville Jaguars fans hold ‘Sign Tim Tebow’ gathering

Things have not been going well for the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars, who have not had a winning season since 2007.

The Jaguars scored just 11 points in their two losses. It’s gotten so bad that fans are calling for three-time discarded quarterback Tim Tebow’s services.

A group gathered Monday afternoon urging the team to sign Tebow, a Jacksonville native who won the Heisman trophy as a quarterback for the University of Florida in 2007.

It has come to this for Tebow: A movement to bring him to his hometown, to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the state in which he won two national titles at Florida, generated little interest, with estimates of 20-40 people showing up.

Now what happens to him? Well, he’ll continue to work out and maybe loosen his stance that he’ll play only at quarterback in the NFL and see what materializes while sad, oddball offers to play as a novelty come in from places like the Lingerie League and Russia.

Cindy Boren

Tebow has been a free agent since being cut by the New England Patriots before the start of the regular season on Aug. 31.

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