, Newburyport, MA


September 19, 2013

Brady assumes Gronkowski out until told otherwise

FOXBOROUGH — Gronk to the rescue?

Maybe this Sunday, maybe not.

No one’s saying if tight end Rob Gronkowski is healthy enough to save the New England Patriots shaky passing attack after he missed the first two games.

Not Gronkowski, who said yesterday, “there’s really nothing new to report.”

Not coach Bill Belichick, who said, “We haven’t practiced today. We’ve just been sitting in meetings. He looked great sitting in the meeting.”

And not Tom Brady.

“I just assume that he’s not playing until they tell me that he’s going to play,” said the quarterback who sure could use his star Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Gronkowski has been sidelined while recovering from forearm and back surgery and participated on a limited basis in practice yesterday. He practiced in full pads for the first time on Sept. 1 and has been regaining his strength. Meanwhile, the Patriots have won their first two games by a total of five points while Brady’s rookie receivers have struggled to get to the spots where he’s thrown the ball.

With receiver Wes Welker in Denver, tight end Aaron Hernandez in custody after pleading not guilty to first-degree murder and Gronkowski in the training room, the only healthy pass catcher Brady can rely on is five-year veteran Julian Edelman.

He has 20 receptions.

The rest of the team has 28. Danny Amendola has 10 of those and he’s expected to miss his second straight game with a groin injury.

So that leaves Brady with three rookies — Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce — among his top four wideouts.

Dobson’s first catch as a pro went for a touchdown, a 39-yarder with no one covering him on the Patriots’ first series of last Thursday night’s 13-10 win over the New York Jets. Later, though, Dobson had several drops.

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