Friday, October 18, 2013

Patriots' red zone offense upgraded with Gronk


The New England Patriots boast the NFL's third-least efficient red zone offense, but that's about to change.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the first six games of the season to back and forearm aliments, has been cleared by team doctors to play Sunday against the New York Jets, according to ProFootballTalk.

Gronk's return should immediately bolster an offense that is converting on less than 41 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line.

Thursday, Gronkowski reportedly had yet to get the green light, though he sounded as if he was ready to go. Now he is, and he expects to pick up right where he left off near the end of last year.

"You gotta be strong there. Strong mentality," Gronkowski said Thursday, via "I believe that's what I got, and when my number's called when I'm ready to go, I'm gonna be out there like I have been before.

"I can't wait and I'm excited."

It's yet to be seen how much Gronkowski, who is likely a little rusty, will be used in his 2013 debut, but it's almost certain his role will increase the close New England gets to the goal line.

The Jets own the NFL's 10th-best red zone offense, surrendering touchdowns on only 45 percent of opponents' trips.

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