Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski won't be making his return to New England alongside Tom Brady on Sunday.
Gronkowski has reportedly been ruled out against the Patriots with a rib injury suffered in last weekend's 34-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, according to ESPN's Jordan Schultz.
Sources: Rob Gronkowski (ribs) officially OUT Week 4 against the Pats. It’s worth noting that Gronk - during his one-year retirement - discussed rushing back from injury as a key issue/reason why he stepped away from football.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) October 2, 2021
Gronkowski spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Patriots before retiring after the 2018 season and returning to the field alongside Brady as a member of the Buccaneers in 2020.
The 32-year-old had modest production last season but has since returned to being one of the NFL's premier tight ends with 16 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns in three games this year.
Most of the focus on Sunday's Patriots-Buccaneers matchup has been placed on Brady's return to Gillette Stadium. He even took a little time to reflect on his roots with a special tribute to his time in New England:
Gronkowski's return would have been a significant subplot, but now that's not a possibility. With the veteran sidelined, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate will be Brady's top two tight ends.