According to NFL Insider Jordan Schultz, Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski will miss his third consecutive game on Thursday night against the Eagles. The veteran tight end suffered fractured ribs and a lung injury in the team’s Week 3 loss to the Rams. Gronkowski was not placed on injured reserve, but will miss three games anyway.
The news does not come as a major surprise. Gronkowski had not participated in either Bucs walkthrough practice on Monday or Tuesday. The 32 year-old has a substantial injury history, and playing him before he was 100 percent ready seemed foolish. The Bucs have missed Gronkowski as a blocker, but have plenty of weapons in the passing game to carry the load. On the season, Gronkowski has 16 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns.
In Week 5, O.J. Howard surpassed Cam Brate in snaps for the first time this season, 44 to 28. Howard caught two passes for 19 yards, while Brate managed one reception for 12 yards. Third string tight end Codey McElroy entered the game late, but dropped his only target. Backup tackle Josh Wells has also filled in as an extra blocker, heavy personnel tight end.
It is widely expected that Gronkowski will return in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears. The Bucs host the Bears on Sunday, October 24 at 4:25 pm.