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Rob Gronkowski back at practice for Bucs, likely to play against Saints on Sunday

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Gronk is back. After missing the last four games with a rib injury and a punctured lung, Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski will play on Sunday against the Saints.

The Tampa Bay Times’ Joey Knight reported today from Buccaneers practice that the 32-year-old was out there, the first sign that his return may be near. NFL insider Jordan Schultz then confirmed that Gronkowski will give it a go on Halloween at 4:25 on FOX.

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Sep 26, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) can’t hang on to a pass in the end zone in the third quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 26, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) can’t hang on to a pass in the end zone in the third quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

The Buccaneers offense hasn’t skipped a beat without Gronkowski in the lineup, averaging 32.5 points per game over the last four weeks. That’s due in part to Tampa Bay having perhaps the best receiving group in the game: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) spikes the football after scoring on a 20-yard pass play against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) spikes the football after scoring on a 20-yard pass play against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

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Tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate haven’t fared as well with Gronkowski out, combining for just 15 receptions for 144 yards and one score. Gronkowski alone had 16 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns during the first three games. Quarterback Tom Brady needs his go-to red zone target back, and he’s going to get it just in time for a big time divisional matchup.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) makes a catch during an NFL football training camp practice Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) makes a catch during an NFL football training camp practice Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

The injury bug doesn’t stop with Gronkowski cleared, however, as another key piece will remain out. Brown missed Sunday’s 38-3 win over the Bears with an ankle sprain and was seen at today’s practice with crutches. Head coach Bruce Arians said the sprain is around his heel and they have no timetable for his return.



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