Bucs Make Final Call on Rob Gronkowski vs. Saints in Week 8

Rob Gronkowski Buccaneers

Getty Rob Gronkowski will return in Week 8 versus the New Orleans Saints.

It’s official — Rob Gronkowski is back.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end will make his long-awaited return from injury in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times.

“Final word on TE. Rob Gronkowski He will play today barring any setbacks in pregame warmups but will be used situationally by Bruce Arians. Don’t expect a full workload but could be a factor in the red zone, third down etc.”

As mentioned by Stroud, Gronkowski will play — but he won’t be used in his usual workload. Prior to his injury, the veteran tight end had appeared in 88% of the Buccaneers’ snaps in Week 1 and 81% of the snaps in Week 2.

The 32-year-old tight end has been sidelined since suffering multiple rib injuries and a punctured lung in a Week 3 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

Prior to his injury, the three-time Super Bowl champion had re-emerged as one of Tom Brady’s favorite weapons. Gronkowski had posted 16 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns in just three games this season.

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Buccaneers Should See Starters Return After Bye Week

The Buccaneers are getting healthier by the week.

Not long before it was reported that Gronkowski would make his return in Week 8 versus the New Orleans Saints, the Buccaneers received more good news.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, wide receiver Antonio Brown and starting cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis are expected to return in Week 10 against the Washington Football Team.

The Buccaneers will have a bye week in Week 9.

“More on the #Bucs, who are getting healthier. — Antonio Brown is likely back after the bye from foot/heel injuries,” wrote Rapoport. “CBs Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting are also progressing well and could be back after the bye, as well.”

Brown was absent during the Buccaneers’ Week 7 victory over the Chicago Bears due to his foot/heel injuries. Murphy-Bunting has been out since Week 1 due to a dislocated elbow while Davis has been sidelined since Week 4 due to a quadriceps injury.

Both Murphy-Bunting and Davis have been on injured reserve with no definite timetable revealed regarding their returns — until now.

With both of their starting corners due back following the bye week, this might indicate the Buccaneers will stand pat at the trade deadline — rather than attempt to trade for a cornerback.

Bucs Must Continue Disciplined Play vs. Saints

Head coach Bruce Arians is stressing one key against the Saints — don’t commit penalties.

Tampa Bay had struggled with penalties all season long until their Week 7 matchup against the Bears. In fact, they had committed at least seven penalties in every game this season (except for Week 1).

“Yeah, that’s the thing,” said Arians. “We didn’t do it very well on the road so far, and it’s going to be loud. It’s time to clean it up. The post-snap penalties, they happen, but the pre-snap [penalties] have got to be eliminated. You can’t go into a game against these guys and beat yourself.”

Considering the Bucs are facing an NFC South divisional rival — the Saints defeated the Bucs in both regular season matchups last year — they will have to be cautious when it comes to retaliation penalties.

“No retaliation penalties,” Arians stressed. “You’ve got to be really calm. You’ve got to play really hard. They’re going to play really hard, but you can’t retaliate. Those are the selfish penalties that get your team beat.”

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