The arms of the respective starting quarterbacks most certainly hold the key to victory, but no other body part has been as discussed and dissected as Rob Gronkowski’s left ankle.
The hulking tight end didn’t practice again on Wednesday, due to his high ankle sprain, which means it’s been up to pundits, coaches, players and Gronkowski himself to disseminate whether his role will be reduced or not come Super Bowl Sunday.
It was reported by ESPN last night that Gronkowski may wear a specialized cleat during the game on Sunday.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski is a downfield threat on seam patterns but isn’t as shifty as fellow star tight end Aaron Hernandez (6-foot-1), so the ability to get in and out of breaks shouldn’t be a concern. But with a high ankle sprain, a malady that sometimes takes as much as two months to heal, there’s little telling how much of an impact Gronkowski can have.
Even though he shed his walking boot Monday and is slowly making strides, Gronkowski isn’t sure he’ll be able to play Sunday. And judging by his words, he sounded like everyone else’s guess was as good as his.
“I don’t know yet. We are going day by day,” Gronkowski said. “I’m feeling better every single day, [so] that’s a positive sign.”
Gronkowski hasn’t practiced since getting hurt Jan. 22 in the AFC championship game and shrugged when asked what he thinks his role will be on Sunday.
“If it’s a whole game [or] if it’s a couple of plays,” he said. “No matter what it is, I’m just trying to help the team as much as possible.”
Gronkowski is the Patriots’ biggest weapon figuratively and statistically. He racked up 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and a tight end single-season record 17 touchdowns.
The Giants, for their part, aren’t buying the angst coming out of the Patriots’ camp. Not that they think it’s all a hoax, rather Gronkowski will be his usually reliable and seemingly indestructible self.
“We’re anticipating Gronkowski is going to go,” said Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty. “This is obviously a very important football game.”
If Rob Gronkowski is unable to play or is limited in Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Brady will look to these five players:
1. Wes Welker had, yard-wise, his best receiving year in 2011 with 1,569 yards on 122 catches.
2. Gronk’s fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez has shown the ability to take over a game as he dominated the Broncos in Denver in Week 15, hauling in nine balls for 129 yards.
3. Former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch hasn’t had a dominant performance this postseason but few would be surprised if he came up big in Indy. He slaughtered the Eagles this season with 125 yards receiving on six catches.
4. Chad Ochocinco is 100-1 odds to win Super Bowl MVP. Could Matthew Slater be the better option? The fastest player on the team, Slater was targeted by Brady in the AFC championship game but the play ended with an interception.