Rob Gronkowski reportedly out Sunday vs. Bears, but expected to return for Week 8

When the New England Patriots take the field in Chicago for their Week 7 game against the Bears, they'll do so without one of their best players. According to multiple reports, Rob Gronkowski experienced a flare-up of his back injury during Friday's practice and did not travel with the Patriots to Chicago. As such, he will not play in the game. (Gronk has had surgery on his back multiple times and this is a well-established issue for him.)

However, the Patriots do not consider this a long-term injury, and's Adam Schefter reported that they expect Gronk to be ready to go for the Patriots' Monday-night game against the division rival Bills next week. 

The Patriots will also be without backup tight end Jacob Hollister for Sunday's game against Chicago, leaving Dwayne Allen as the only tight end on the active roster. Considering New England has used two or more tight ends on approximately 40 percent of its offensive snaps this season, per Sharp Football Stats, it seems safe to say they will have to alter their offensive attack for at least this game. 

Luckily for the Pats, they got Julian Edelman back a couple weeks ago, and Josh Gordon appears to now be at full strength. They also still have Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett on the outside, and of course James White out of the backfield. In other words, they have enough options to overcome a short-term absence for Gronk. But if this injury lingers, things could get interesting rather quickly. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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