Tight end Rob Gronkowski was one of several starters who returned to practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday, according to various reports. Although his level of participation has yet to be confirmed, it marks Gronkowski’s first practice since Week 3 after suffering cracked ribs and a punctured long against the Los Angeles Rams.
Gronkowski kicked off his 2021 season with a bang, hauling in 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns across the first three games of the year before going down with his injury.
O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate have filled in for Gronkowski during his absence, and as a result, Tampa Bay’s production has dropped off at the tight end position. Since Gronkowski exited the lineup, Howard and Brate have combined for 13 receptions across 29 targets for 144 yards.
Gronkowski was one of several injured Buccaneers spotted by reporters at practice on Wednesday, joined by linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring). David has missed the Bucs’ last two games with a sprained ankle, while Sherman – who has started in place of fellow injured corner Carlton Davis III this year – left early against Philadelphia with a hamstring injury and did not play against Chicago as a result.
The portion of practice open to the media wouldn’t reveal the extent to which these players participated, making Wednesday afternoon’s injury report important to monitor. But the fact that Gronkowski, David and Sherman were spotted on the practice field during the first workout of the week is an encouraging sign that the banged-up Buccaneers are inching toward a healthier lineup this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
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