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NFL fans likely noticed Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski was nowhere to be seen during the Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
Gronkowski, 32, was injured after being hit in the third quarter of the Buccaneers' game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 26. While he briefly reentered the game after the hit, the injuries kept him from joining the Bucs on their flight to Massachusetts for yesterday's game.
"We held out hope all week that Gronk would be ready," a source close to the Bucs told ESPN. "He's a different breed."
According to the outlet, Gronkowski underwent an MRI following the hit that showed he had several fractured ribs.
"He made progress but not enough," Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told ESPN of Gronkowski's recovery.
Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer later clarified that Gronkowski suffered a total of four cracked ribs, one broken rib, and a punctured lung during the game against the Rams.
"I actually talked to Gronk about it, and he said 'There's been a lot of misinformation out there, so, Jay, put the right information out there about me.' It wasn't just a couple of cracked ribs, it was four cracked ribs, one broken rib and a punctured lung," Glazer said.
"He said, 'Of course I wanted to be out there against New England as much as anything. But with something like this, especially the lung, I need to think about my health first,' " he continued. "That's something I might not have thought about earlier, but at this point I've got to really make sure my health comes first.' But he said it was driving (him) crazy that he couldn't be in there against New England."
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While Gronkowski wasn't able to join quarterback Tom Brady in his return to New England (Gronkowski and Brady won three Super Bowls together on the Patriots), the Florida team still managed to squeeze out a victory.
Thanks to a missed field goal by the Patriots in the closing moments of the game at Gillette Stadium, the Bucs won Sunday's game 19-17, and now have a 3-1 record following their Super Bowl win earlier this year.