In an update not unexpected Thursday afternoon at Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski cleared concussion protocol from the independent neurologist with the NFL and team doctors and will be available to play Sunday against the Eagles.
As expected, Rob Gronkowski is playing in the Super Bowl. He’s scheduled to speak to the media today, which means he’s being/been cleared from concussion protocol.
— Omar Ruiz (@OmarDRuiz) February 1, 2018
Gronkowski was leveled 11 days ago in the AFC Championship Game by Jaguars safety Barry Church (above) and did not return to the game with the concussion. Church was subsequently fined for the hit, which was a questionable decision. This is because as the photo above shows Church led with his shoulder as Gronk was coming down to haul in a high throw from Tom Brady.
And, it was Church’s shoulder that initially contacted Gronkowski before they hit helmet to helmet. Church was flagged 15 yards for hitting “a defenseless receiver,” and New England, eventually scored their first TD of the game late in the first half.
Gronkowski spoke during the final Pats media availability on Thursday and did not blame Church:
Rob Gronkowski doesn't blame Jaguars safety Barry Church for the hit that gave him a concussion in the AFC Championship Game: "It's football. It is what it is. It's a split second to make a decision. It's running full speed one way, I'm going the other… https://t.co/gEAUjmuQQS
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) February 2, 2018
It was always believed that with the second week of rest and practice that Gronkowski would be able to clear the cognitive tests to show the concussion had resolved for him to play. It was further a good sign that he was in uniform at practice both Wednesday and Thursday, as the Patriots put the majority of their game plan in for the Eagles and Sunday.
Gronkowski is arguably Brady’s top target, especially in the red zone and goal to go situations. He has 76 career regular season TD’s and 10 more in the post season, including one in the divisional round game with the Titans.
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