FOXBORO – Rob Gronkowski will indeed sit out Monday's game in Miami
Appeals officer Derrick Brooks denied Gronkowski's bid to overturn the one-game suspension he was issued for throwing a forearm to the back of the head of a defenseless Tre 'Davious White during Sunday's victory against the Buffalo Bills.
Brooks was appointed as the appeal officer jointly by the NFL and the Players Association. The Patriots will be able to add a player to take Gronkowski's roster spot for the week.
"I love Gronk, we'll just move on," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said at the team's charity holiday party for children last night, shortly after the news came down. "We have our planning. We'll do what we have to do. "
But losing Gronkowski, who scored two touchdowns in the Patriots' 35-17 win against Miami on Nov. 26, is no small matter.
" It's big shoes to fill for sure, "running back Rex Burkhead said. "That's the great thing about this team, we're always trying to find a way to step up. The coach will find roles and situations to put guys in to make those plays. "
" We have guys who can fill in, "he said.
Even before the appeal decision came down, the Patriots were preparing to play the Dolphins without Gronkowski.
He's an important part of the offense, both as a pass catcher (55 receptions for 849 yards with seven touchdowns) and blocker
"Rob's played a lot of football in the games he's been healthy, and he certainly made an impact in a lot of different ways," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "We've tried to use him in the ways we feel like we can be most productive with him, both as a run blocker, pass protector, pass receiver. Sometimes you have to do it as you go on.
"People play differently, and sometimes you get a certain way where you need to change some things and adjust and adapt, and Rob has always been a guy who can do That pretty quickly on the fly, "McDaniels went on. "He studies the game hard. He knows the game plan and his role in it. We try to do as much as we can to put him in a position to help us win by being successful in his role, so he's done a nice job in what we've asked him to do. "
No doubt No. 2 tight end Dwayne Allen will see more time with Gronkowski out
That's what happened against Tampa Bay, the only game Gronkowski did not play this season because of a thigh injury. The Patriots also might have an even heavier reliance on the running backs, both in the ground and passing game. The possible return of injured receiver Chris Hogan, who has been out since Week 8 with a shoulder injury, also would help.