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News Blitz 12/18: Gronk and Big Vince will be back for 2014

Posted Dec 18, 2013

Today's Patriots.com news blitz, focuses on injury news from Rob Gronkowski and Vince Wilfork as we check up on their recovery process.

Piggybacking on a Tom Brady quote from his weekly interview on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan, Boston Globe writer, Chris Gasper wrote how the Patriots' margin for error is very small.  With the defense having been hit with the injury bug this season and the offense having a rebuilding year, Gasper believes they must play nearly perfect football in order to win.  He mentioned how the Patriots average margin of victory is the second-lowest among teams with a winning record, but also mentioned that the Pats are an impressive 6-1 in games decided by 3 points or less. 

In a Bleacher Report  article written by James Christensen, Dont'a Hightower was featured as a player who has recently made big improvements.  Although he was the defender covering Marcus Thigpenon on Miami's game winning touchdown, Christensen mentions how Hightower has played his best two games over the past two weeks.  The article broke down the second-year linebacker's performance against Miami and showed how his decision-making has improved dramatically.

The Patriots dropped 3 spots this week in ESPN.com's Power Rankings, putting them 7th in the rankings.  Last week the New England was listed as the 4th best team, but following their loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots were leapfrogged by the 49ers, Panthers, and the Kansas City Chiefs this week. Andy Hart from Patriots Football Weekly  also offers his NFL Week 16 power rankings.

"No Gronk, Dobson or Thompkins left Tom Brady throwing three passes into the end zone targeting receivers with an average height of 5-foot-11.  Needless to say, it didn't work," ESPN.com staff.

The Boston Globe's Shalise Manza Young and Ben Volin reported that Rob Gronkowski is likley to receive surgery to repair his right knee at the beginning of the new year.  According to the two reporters, Gronkowski will have the surgery in roughly two weeks.  Dr. James Andrews is scheduled to perform the surgery and since there was no dislocation of the knee, Gronk should be ready to play by the beginning of next season.

But Rob Gronkowski is not the only Patriots player that expects to be back for the start of the 2014 season.  Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald wrote that Vince Wilfork expects to be playing next year.  Wilfork addressed the media for the first time since suffering his season-ending injury and said that there is no question in his mind that he will be back.

In other injury news, CBSSports.com's  Ryan Wilson says that Baltimore Ravens QB, Joe Flacco, expects to play this Sunday against the Patriots.  Flacco suffered a knee injury in the Ravens 18-16 win against the Detroit Lions on Monday night and will fitted for a knee brace.  According to Wilson, Flacco suffered no structural damage to the knee but will most likely be limited in practice this week.

The Boston Globe played the "what if" game today in an interactive article about Boston's sports teams in 2013.  In the article, writers Gary Dzen and Chad Finn asked "what if" the Patriots had signed Emmanuel Sanders, "what if" Tim Tebow had made the team, "what if" Wes Welker had stayed in New England, "what if" Aaron Hernandez hadn't been arrested, and "what if" the Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Rob Gronkowski hadn't gotten hurt.  Additionally, the two writers also asked the question, "What if the Patriots had beaten the Ravens in the AFC Championship game?"  Well, according to the article, had the Patriots won the AFC Championship game, they would have gone on to beat the 49ers and Tom Brady would have a fourth Super Bowl Ring.