There’s little doubt that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers boast one of the best offensive units in all of football, but for most of the 2021 season, the group has been down one of it’s most dynamic pass-catchers: tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski, he joined the Buccaneers in 2020 to reunite with his longtime quarterback Tom Brady, has been battling injured ribs throughout the campaign. After trying to return in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints, the 32-year-old tight end left the game after just six snaps without a catch.
That’s left some question as to when Gronkowski will be back on the field again full-time. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians did his best to outline a return timeline for the star tight end, effectively ruling him out for this weekend’s game against Washington.
“We think in about two or three weeks he’ll be back to normal,” Arians said on SiriusXM NFL Radio Thursday. “Darren Fells coming in this week, veteran player who’s played good for us in the past and love where we’re at that way. Gronk is gonna get better and we’ll just make sure he’s good when he comes back.”
Bruce Arians updates the status of Rob Gronkowski and says they want to be cautious with the veteran tight end….
LISTEN 🔊 pic.twitter.com/UdaffqNFM7
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) November 11, 2021
The news of Gronkowski’s setback will be quite the blow for the Buccaneers. The five-time Pro Bowler was off to a hot start in 2021, catching four touchdowns in Tampa’s first two games.
As Arians said in his radio appearance, the Buccaneers prepared for Gronkowski’s absence by signing veteran tight end Darren Fells to their practice squad this week. The 35-year-old has some familiarity with Arians, having played for him for four seasons in Arizona.
Fells might not be able to replace Gronkowski, but he will give Brady and the Bucs offense another skilled offensive player to utilize. He’ll plug in alongside Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard at tight end as soon as this weekend.
Tampa Bay will be in action against the Washington Football Team at 1 p.m. ET this Sunday.