Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski ruled out for Patriots on Sunday
Both players’ status for Sunday’s game had been shrouded in mystery throughout the week, as they were limited during practices. Gronkowski continues to rehab from offseason back and forearm surgeries and hasn’t played a single game for the Patriots this season. Amendola has missed the past three games while recovering from a groin injury he suffered in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills.
On Friday, the Patriots still held some belief that Gronkowski and Amendola would be able to play against the Falcons this week, albeit on a limited basis. Both players were listed as questionable on this week’s injury report, meaning the Patriots must have assessed their chances of playing on Sunday at 40-60 percent.
But on Saturday, reports surfaced suggesting there was some contention between the Patriots and Gronkowski’s camp. The Patriots reportedly considered Gronkowski healthy enough to return to the game action on Sunday, while the player didn’t feel he was take contact through an entire game and feared a setback to hi recovery. Though in the end, the Patriots decided to sit him out for Week 4 as Gronkowski, along with Amendola, did not make the trip to Atlanta with the Patriots on Saturday.
According to recent reports, both players’ return timetable could stretch into Week 5 and beyond. NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that Gronkowski’s return can be expected at some point during the part of the Patriots’ schedule when the play the Bengals, Saints and Jets – which runs through Week 5 to Week 7.
So, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will likely go into the Sunday’s game with receiver Julian Edelman as his go-to target in Amendola’s absence at the starting spot. Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce may also see increased playing time, with Brady expecting them to step up after their up-and-down starts to the season. The rookie receivers don’t have much to show for the past two weeks, but will be likely getting plenty of targets as the Patriots try to maintain their perfect record early in the season against a Falcons offense that is expected to score a lot of points on home turf.