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If Jimmy Garoppolo was hoping to use Rob Gronkowski as his security blanket in the Patriots offense on Sunday, it looks like he has 48 hours to figure something else out.

According to the NFL Network, Gronk is not expected to play when the Patriots travel to Arizona for their regular season opener on Sunday night. Gronk’s status had been a mystery since Friday afternoon when the Providence Journal reported that the Patriots’ tight end wasn’t on the team’s flight to Arizona.

Gronk has been dealing with a hamstring injury for almost a month now. The tight end originally suffered the injury during a joint practice with the Bears on Aug. 15.

During his weekly press conference on Thursday, Gronk didn’t sound too enthusiastic about his chances of playing against the Cardinals. The tight end said that this hamstring wasn’t 100 percent, that it was definitely still bothering him and that as far as his playing status goes, he was taking things “week to week.”

For the secretive Patriots, it was almost odd to hear Gronk be so open about his injury. Of course, this could all be a mind game by Bill Belichick, who could have a secret plan to fly Gronk out to Arizona on Saturday night so he can play on Sunday.

Gronk’s absence could potentially mean big things for tight end Martellus Bennett, who will be playing his first game with the Patriots on Sunday after spending the past three seasons with the Bears.

Gronk isn’t the only Patriots player who might be missing on Sunday. When the team left for Arizona, offensive linemen Nate Solder and Jonathan Cooper weren’t on the plane, either.

Of course, the Patriots will also be without Tom Brady, who’s suspended for the first four games of the regular season.


Source: CBS Sports / Reports: Rob Gronkowski not on team flight, expected to miss Week 1