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BRENNAN: Is Gronk's slow start what he has become?

Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Is this the new Rob Gronkowski?

At just 31 and with a body that’s supposed to be rested and healed after a year-long sabbatical, is the “Gronk” now strictly a blocking tight end who may or may not catch a pass per game this season?

Nobody expected him to be the 2011 Gronkowski, who had the best statistical year ever produced by a player at his position — 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, plus a two-yard score on his only carry of the campaign. Or the guy who in April, around the time he was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was declared the third-best tight end of all-time by Athlon Sports, directly behind Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.

But two games into his reunion with Tom Brady, Gronk has just a pair of receptions for 11 yards.

Is it a timing issue? He has been targeted nine times.

Is it that he’s still learning the new offence?

Or is this what the new offence is making him?

“We’re not throwing the ball 50 times to tight ends,” said Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians, per USA Today . “That’s what we have receivers for and that’s the way our offence is built.”

The other Buccaneers tight ends are O.J. Howard, who has five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown, and Cameron Brate, who has no catches and has been targeted just once.

In Week 3 fantasy rankings done by Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty, Howard is listed as the 26th best option at tight end. Interesting, Gronk is 25th.

“Gronk’s playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I’m not concerned with his pass catches or his targets,” said Arians. “We haven’t had that many red zone opportunities and I don’t see him running 40 yards past people anymore.”

Maybe it’s going to take a couple of weeks for Brady and Gronk to rediscover their magic, or at least a shadow of it.

And maybe it’s time to drop Gronk from your fantasy team now.

OFF THE TOP

Misdemeanour charges of solicitation against Robert Kraft were dropped on Thursday after an appeals court ruled authorities had violated the rights of the Patriots owner, and others, with secretly installed video cameras. It is the victory of the week for Kraft, no matter what the Patriots do against the Raiders … TIAA Bank Field was allowed to be at 25 percent capacity for the Jaguars home game against the Dolphins on Thursday. And can someone please explain why anyone thought Miami-Jacksonville would be a good game to show on the third Thursday of the season? It couldn’t be worse? Next Thursday features the 0-2 Broncos at the 0-2 Jets … Upon further review, MetLife Stadium has once again met the standards required for NFL games to be played on its turf. The 49ers, who complained about its condition after their Week 2 victory over the Jets, will return to the same venue to play the Giants on Sunday — a game that would have had to be rescheduled if the field did not measure up. Now that it has, the 49ers have to decided if they’re going to let George Kittle return from a knee injury or wait until they are at home next Sunday night against the Eagles …

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Through two weeks, the best off-season acquisition is what we thought it would be — the Arizona Cardinals acquiring DeAndre Hopkins in a head-scratching trade with the Houston Texans. Hopkins leads the league with 22 receptions on 25 targets. As pointed out by Pro Football Talk, when Michael Thomas set a NFL record with 149 catches last year, he had 20 after two weeks. Records or not, it looks like this year Hopkins and Kyler Murray will be what Thomas and Drew Brees were in 2019 — the best pitcher-catcher battery in the league. “We just kind of hit it off through natural vibes,” Murray told reporters, per the Arizona Republic . “He’s a real good dude. And then from there, you’ve got that quarterback-receiver connection, and it’s something I can’t really explain unless you played the game and been a part of it. I think we just naturally have that connection already.” … After cutting ties with the Lions in a mutual agreement seven months ago, former first team all-pro DT Damon (Snacks) Harrison says he wants to get back on the field. The 31-year old Harrison, a 6-foot-3, 350-pounder with the best nickname going, is visiting with the Seahawks next week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Also reportedly interested are the Bears, Packers and Bengals ….

PLAYING CATCH-UP

Not only are the Jets without Le’Veon Bell, but Sam Darnold’s top three receivers are dealing with injuries and at least one of them (Jamison Crowder) is doubtful. Who’s going to get the job done offensively for the Jets this weekend? “Whoever’s got a pulse right now,” coach Adam Gase said, per the New York Post . “We’re ready to go.” … Numerous other teams could be without their top pass catchers this week. Green Bay’s Davante Adams is doubtful after missing practice again Thursday with a hamstring issue. If he can’t go, Marquez Valdes-Scantling might be a good fantasy pickup … Atlanta’s Julio Jones (hamstring), Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (ankle) also missed practice, leaving the participation of all three in doubt for Week 3 …

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