The New England Patriots must get used to playing without Rob Gronkowski again.
The star tight end who missed the first six games while recovering from surgeries is done for the season after being placed on injured reserve Monday with a damaged right knee.
That experience could help the Patriots handle his absence.
“I’d like to think there’s going to be some carry-over there, not only (from) the first six weeks of the season, but the entire training camp as well,” coach Bill Belichick said Monday. “That’s the way we practiced and played most of the year.”
Gronkowski was hurt midway through the third quarter of the Patriots’ 27-26 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday when he was hit on the knee by safety T.J. Ward after a 21-yard reception.
The Patriots were 5-1 while Gronkowski recovered from offseason operations on his left forearm and back. In the next six games, he led all NFL tight ends with 37 catches and 560 yards receiving and they were 4-2. But the offense was much more productive.
Gronkowski caught touchdown passes in four consecutive games before making just two receptions for 32 yards against the Browns.
He suffered a torn ACL and damaged MCL, a person familiar with the injury said Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not release those details.
Browns coach doesn’t blame officials: Browns coach Rob Chudzinski didn’t point a finger at anyone but his own players.
A day after an epic collapse in New England, Chudzinski refused to blame officials who called two questionable penalties against the Browns in the closing minutes as the Patriots rallied from a 12-point deficit for an improbable 27-26 win.
“Anything can happen in a game and it did yesterday,” Chudzinski said Monday. “We have to make the plays and take advantage of the opportunities we have to win those kind of football games.” Outplaying a Patriots team with so much more on the line, the Browns (4-9) built a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left before everything fell apart. Tom Brady, frazzled for three quarters, threw two touchdown passes the second set up by an iffy pass interference call in the end zone on Cleveland rookie Leon McFadden in the last 61 seconds. The Patriots recovered their first onside kick since 1995 to stun the Browns, who lost their fourth straight and seventh in eight games.
Following the heartbreaker, a few Browns players felt wronged. “I feel like we got robbed a little bit,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. Chudzinski was asked if referee Jerome Boger and his crew were the worst he has seen.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “We can only control what we can control and if we focus on the things that we can’t, then we’ve given up all of our ability to do what we can do, and we put it in somebody else’s hands or we blame somebody else. We’re just not going to operate that way.”
RG3 might be shut down: Mike Shanahan, still for now the coach of the Washington Redskins, made a surprising reversal Monday and said he might bench a “100 percent” healthy Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season to keep the quarterback from getting hurt.
Shanahan essentially declared it might be more beneficial for Griffin to get offseason snaps in May rather than game experience over the next three weeks. The coach, for the first time, then explicitly left open the possibility that he might not return next year, saying his future will be decided after he meets with owner Dan Snyder at the end of the season.
Shanahan’s departure appears more likely than ever after the Redskins (3-10) were embarrassed 45-10 by Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, a fifth straight loss that ensures a third season of double-digit losses in the coach’s four seasons in Washington.
“You always want to come back. I love these guys,” Shanahan said. “What’ll happen at the end of the season, we’ll get a chance, Dan and I, to sit down and decide he’ll make the final decision on what’s the best interest of the Washington Redskins. I’ll give my opinion and what I think, and obviously he’ll make the final decision.”