Originally posted on Patriots Extra  |  Last updated 7/1/13
Rob Gronkowski is a phenomenal player.  He has been among the best tight ends since he has entered the league.  Unfortunately, he has also spent a good amount of time on the shelf due to injuries.  This is why the Patriots would be wise to shut him down until the playoffs start.  At first, this may sound crazy given the offensive woes of the Patriots.  However, with the mediocre division that is the AFC East, the Patriots are almost assured a playoff spot.  Given this fact, why would you rush a player of Gronkowski's caliber back before he is completely ready, ultimately risking losing him completely?  One could argue that the Patriots did that exact thing last season.  The team brought him back for a "tune up" game before the playoffs, only to lose him for the entire postseason.  Now they are left to wonder what might have been in the AFC Championship game against the Ravens.  Had he been healthy, that game could have played out very differently, and the Patriots very well could have gone on to win the Lombardi Trophy.  Is it really worth risking a repeat of history when a playoff spot is almost assured?  This is why the Patriots should not just sit Gronkowski for the first six weeks, but for the entire regular season.  He is far too important to risk losing, as he is the Patriots best offensive weapon besides Brady, especially with the recent Aaron Hernandez debacle.      
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