Hannable: Is something wrong with Rob Gronkowski?

Ryan Hannable
August 07, 2017 - 11:06 pm

Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

FOXBORO — When it comes to Rob Gronkowski, usually there are tons of spikes, lots of dancing after catches and celebrating with his teammates after big plays. 

Over the first 10 days of training camp, these things have been few and far between. 

Aside from the first day of camp, which was held without pads, Gronkowski hasn’t made many big plays, or even seemed like himself when it comes to after plays and interacting with his teammates.

It seems at least once in each of the last few sessions we’ve seen Gronkowski getting up from the grass after being knocked down by a defensive lineman in 1-on-1’s or 11-on-11 work— a sight we’ve rarely seen over his first seven training camps. 

Gronkowski also has dropped more than his fair share of passes, including one easy catch in Monday’s joint practice against the Jaguars. Besides the drops, he's also commited a few penalties, too.

“It’s always frustrating when you drop the ball,” he said after practice Monday. “But you’ve got to go back out there and you’ve got to put that play in the back of your head and keep on going.”

Another thing which stood out was Gronkowski wasn’t the tight end part of the hurry-up work on Monday. It was Dwayne Allen.

It’s hard to read much into play during training camp, but simply put: Gronkowski hasn’t looked anywhere close to himself. This has been somewhat surprising because for the first time in several years he was a full participant in all of the spring sessions and seemed 100 percent healthy for training camp. 

Is Gronkowski battling an injury? Sure, he could be. But, wouldn’t it make sense for he and the team to be patient with any type of injury right now considering the season opener isn’t for another month? Gronkowski’s new contract is based off of playing time, but it’s not like he would hide a training camp injury out of fear he might miss a few games. For the record, he doesn’t appear to be hurt, either.

Could he be unhappy with his current role and the attention being given to Brandin Cooks and not him? Another possibility that just doesn’t make sense, as that just isn’t the type of person he is. Things don't need to always be about him.

“He’s a great player, great dude and he works super hard,” Gronkowski said. “Not surprised at all to see him making plays like that [when] you see how hard the kid works.”

Maybe he’s just had a bad few days and that’s all it is. This seems like the most plausible of all the possibilities.

Even though it’s hard to find an exact reason why, it’s clear Gronkowski hasn’t been himself in the last two weeks.

(It also should be noted this isn’t to be taken as a knock against the tight end, it is just pointing out he hasn’t had a training camp like this in the past and whenever he isn't acting himself, it's cause for some concern.)

Don’t expect Gronkowski to step onto the game field and prove everything is just fine, either, as he likely will not appear in any of the four preseason games. The tight end hasn’t played in a preseason game since 2012 and it would seem the trend will continue. It simply isn’t worth the injury risk.

So while it still remains unclear what, if anything is bothering Gronkowski, there’s no denying the tight end hasn’t been his normal self this summer and is a situation which bares watching over the next several weeks.