Report: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski 50-50 to return in Week 3

Could Rob Gronkowski return in Week 3? (USATSI)
Bill Belichick can joke (he was joking, right?) all he wants about preparing for the Buccaneers like they're a 2-0 team, but that'll just be pregame lip service, especially if Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski finally returns to the lineup.

From the perspective of Tuesday morning, there's a 50-50 chance Gronk plays, according to ESPN's Ed Werder, a development that would make Tom Brady's life infinitely easier. In a Week 2 win over the Jets that set the passing game back a hundred years, Brady looked out of sorts all night. He completed fewer than half his passes for the first time since 2009, and it had everything to do with the guys on the receiving end of those passes.

Brady, already without his top five targets from last season, is now also without Danny Amendola, who could be sidelined anywhere from 2-6 weeks with a groin injury. Gronkowski would be a huge upgrade (duh), and would help protect rookie receivers Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Joyce Boyce from Brady's wrath.

For an idea of how bad things have been through two games, out of five wide receivers and two tight ends, only Julian Edelman and Amendola have positive ratings, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

But Gronk's coming off summer back surgery, which means he won't be completely healthy for some time. That said, a less-than-100-percent Gronkowski is better than most of the tight ends in the NFL and all the options currently on the Pats' roster.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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