Finally, mercifully, it’s official: Rob Gronkowski is active for the Super Bowl.
This isn’t remotely surprising, and at this point the mere fact that Gronk is active means very little. We’ll know much more about Gronkowski’s ability to contribute very shortly. Our guess is still that he’ll make a contribution, but he’ll lose significant burst, and he won’t be anywhere close to being the same highly physical, record-setting player he was throughout the season.
Much of what made Gronk tick was his ability to absorb a hit, and then cut and turn up field. The unpredictable nature of a high ankle sprain may make that difficult. But hell, who knows anymore. Gronkowski was walking without a limp yesterday as the Patriots organized themselves for their team picture, which means something, but not much
NBC’s Alex Flanagan spoke to Bill Belichick earlier today, and he told her that Gronk will play, but his playing time could be limited. Belichick also said that Gronkowski hasn’t practiced at full speed in two weeks. So while there’s excitement over this exciting news that’s barely news, the real story will be how Gronkowski looks on New England’s opening drive.
If he’s hobbling heavily, the Patriots could look to Chad Ochocinco, who’s active tonight after being inactive for the AFC Championship game against Baltimore. Ocho only had 15 receptions this year, and he hasn’t caught a pass in a competitive football game since Christmas Eve. But depth will be a necessity tonight, so both Belichick and Tom Brady could be forced to cast a few rare looks in Ochocinco’s direction.
Stevan Ridley is also active for New England after sitting for the AFC Championship game due to a recent bout with butter fingers. Ridley was benched after he fumbled in Week 17 and in the divisional round against Denver, but he’ll play tonight behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead in the Patriots’ backfield.