By Jeremiah Thermidor
Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t seen any action since Week 11, when he fractured his left forearm in a huge win over the Colts and was forced to have surgery the following day. Gronkowski, who had 137 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the victory, may finally play this Sunday. However, whether or not the 23-year-old tight end gets on the field will likely be a game-time decision. Gronkowski emphasized earlier in the week how important his doctors will be in deciding if he gets to compete against the Dolphins.
“When the doctors clear me, when the training staff clears me, when I’m medically ready to play and they let me play, I’m sure that’s when I’ll be out there,” Gronkowski said via ESPN Boston. Gronkowski, who was recently tapped to participate in 2013 Pro Bowl, has caught 76 passes for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. His absence certainly impacts the outcome of any game. But the reality is if Gronkowski isn’t 100 percent then he should sit this one out in order to be at full strength in the playoffs.
Gronkowski is among 20 New England players listed as questionable on the injury report. The other players include safety Patrick Chung (Shoulder), guard Dan Connolly (Back), cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (Hamstring/Knee), defensive back Nate Ebner (Hamstring), tight end Aaron Hernandez (Ankle), linebacker Don’t’a Hightower (Hamstring/Shoulder), defensive end Chandler Jones (Ankle), wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (Knee), defensive tackle Kyle Love (Knee), guard Logan Mankins (Ankle/Calf), linebacker Jerod Mayo (Elbow), offensive lineman Nick McDonald (Shoulder), linebacker Mike Rivera (Ankle), offensive tackle Nate Solder (Abdomen), linebacker Brandon Spikes (Knee/Ankle), cornerback Aqib Talib (Hip), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (Back/Knee), wide receiver Wes Welker (Ankle) and linebacker Tracy White (Elbow).
The high number of questionable players on New England’s injury report indicates the Patriots will be resting certain players in preparation for the postseason, which is usually expected during the last game of the season. New England cornerback Marquice Cole is the only Patriots player listed as doubtful for this game with a finger injury. No players are listed as probable for the matchup.
As for the Dolphins, the only player ruled out of this Week 17 matchup is wide receiver Davone Bess who will be missing his third straight game with a back injury. Bess has had a respectable season for the Dolphins catching 61 passes for 778 yards and a touchdown. Receivers such as Rishard Mathews and Marlon Moore have done a good job stepping up in his absence and will do so again this weekend. Cornerback Nolan Carroll (Knee), center/guard Josh Samuda (Shoulder) and defensive tackle Randy Starks (Non-Football) are listed as questionable for the contest.
Players listed as probable for the Dolphins include wide receiver Armon Binns (Groin) safety Chris Clemons (Ankle), linebacker Karlos Dansby (Bicep), receiver Brian Hartline (Back), safety Reshad Jones (Hip), linebacker Koa Misi (Ankle) and cornerback Sean Smith (Knee).
The New England Patriots (11-4) will play host to the Miami Dolphins (7-8) on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. eastern. You can watch full coverage of the game right here on CBS 4.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.