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Finally: Rob Gronkowski expected to debut Sunday

Scott Pianowski
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Banner day for the Patriots (USAT)

It looks like the agonizing Rob Gronkowski wait is over, and not a moment too soon. You can only play Hungry Hungry Hippos for so long.

Let's go to the Twitter:

It's surprising to see Patriots news this cut and dried on a Friday, especially with a Jets game on the way, but there you go. Take Gronkowski out of the garage, remove the covering, take the car for a spin - and bring Tom Brady with you.

Gronkowski reportedly has been terrific in recent practices, if you believe the words of his teammates (and why wouldn't you trust everything you hear from Foxboro? Helpful organization.). I'm giving Gronkowski a modest No. 10 ranking on my Week 7 tight end board for now, but I'll revisit before Sunday. Let's see if any additional news comes out between now and the end of Friday's practice.

Some fake footballers will want to explore trade possibilities with Gronkowski set to return. Maybe you got lucky with a Julius Thomas or Jordan Cameron play on the cheap and now have two strong tight end options. I wouldn't be afraid to dangle Gronkowski on the market, too. Fantasy owners often have a difficult time staying grounded on the eve of any major return or debut. The optimistic urge is hard to suppress. This is Christmas Eve without the egg nog.

Gronkowski's obviously a dominant player when right (as both a receiver and blocker), but he's also had a laundry list of physical problems and surgeries, dating back to his time at the University of Arizona. This season's wait has been tied to back and forearm issues.

Is Gronkowski ready for full snaps on Sunday? Can he play the final 10 games without incident? How quickly will his timing return in the passing game? No one can say. But after watching Zach Sudfeld's flop and the Michael Hoomanawanui Show (not to mention a lot of uneven wideout play), the Patriots welcome back their potential dominator with open arms. This passing game is completely different if you add a useful Gronkowski to the mix.

Share your Gronkowski expectations, for this week and beyond, in the comments. (Talk about your Brady projections as well, if you like.) Have fun with your shiny new toy.

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