Remember when Earl Thomas blasted Rob Gronkowski during the Seahawks' Sunday night win over the Patriots? Remember when Gronkowski described that hit after the game as "one of the hardest" hits of his career?
Apparently, it might've done some damage. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports that Gronkowski is undergoing tests, but the injury does not appear to be as severe as a punctured lung, which was reported earlier in the day. It is not considered a long-term injury.
Was told Gronk still undergoing more tests. Did not appear to be as severe as a punctured lung, but no final determination yet— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 15, 2016
Earlier Monday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Gronkowski suffered what is believed to be a punctured lung. He might miss only one week, according to Rapoport.
Here's the hit:
And here's how Gronkowski described the hit:
"Yeah, that was a big hit for sure, probably one of the hardest I've got hit in my career for sure. [It was] by a good player, a good fast player who's like a missile," Gronkowski said. "It was a good, clean hit, nothing against it. I just took it and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that's all. If you've ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it's a little tough to breathe, but once it comes back, you're good."
OK, so first and foremost, let's acknowledge Gronk's toughness, because he came back into the game after that hit. That's incredible and shouldn't be overlooked.
And now, let's turn to the ramifications of his injury: The Patriots will be fine. Their offense might be dialed down a bit -- because Gronk is the best tight end on the planet -- but they still have Martellus Bennett on their roster. Bennett has caught 38 passes for 504 yards and four touchdowns this season. He's actually Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded tight end with Gronk listed at No. 4. The Patriots will probably win their next game without Gronk, especially given it will be played against the 1-8 49ers.
Even if Gronkowski misses more than one game, the Patriots will be fine. At 7-2, they're two games up on the Dolphins in the AFC East. Gronk's absence might impact their ability to lock up the top spot in the AFC, but it won't prevent them from reaching the postseason. After the 49ers, the Patriots will play the 3-7 Jets.
The schedule is manageable and Bill Belichick is the league's best coach who just went 3-1 without Tom Brady. The Patriots will survive. They always do.