Question: Will New England tight end Rob Gronkowski play? And, if so, how much will he be handicapped?
Answer: I wish I could tell you, but I can't. I consulted Dr. Steven Weinfeld, assistant professor of orthopedics at New York's Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and he said he would be "pleasantly surprised" if Gronkowski plays. Basically, he didn't think there was much chance -- though he did say trainers could stabilize Gronkowski's high ankle sprain with tape and try to reduce the swelling and pain with an injection of an anti-inflammatory. Yeah, I know, Gronk returned after hurting himself last weekend and finished the game, but "often," Dr. Weinfeld said, "the maximum swelling or inflammation doesn't occur for 24 to 48 hours." Meaning? Meaning that Gronkowski's return Sunday was no indication of the severity of the injury. In fact, he might've risked more damage by getting back on the field, but, hey, that can happen when you're trying to win, right? Anyway, let me point out that Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a high ankle sprain in last year's AFC Championship Game and didn't play in the Super Bowl. Last time I checked, making lateral movements while running wasn't as necessary for an offensive lineman as it was a tight end. If, however, Gronkowski, plays you can figure that his movement will be limited -- which means his effectiveness will be reduced considerably.