An MRI revealed New England’s Rob Gronkowski has torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee, meaning the Pro Bowl tight end is done for the year, according to multiple reports Monday.
Gronkowski was writhing in pain and had to be carted off the Gillette Stadium field after a low hit by Cleveland safety T.J. Ward in Sunday’s victory by the Patriots.
Gronkowski, 24, missed the first six games of the season while recovering from back and forearm surgeries he underwent in the off-season. Since returning, he has caught 37 passes for 560 yards with four touchdowns.
In 2011, he set an NFL record for tight ends with 17 receiving touchdowns. He signed a lucrative contract extension in 2012.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Gronkowski is irreplaceable.
“I think Rob is similar to the conversations we had with Jerod [Mayo] and Vince [Wilfork],” Belichick said, referring to two injured defensive players also done for the season. “I don’t think too many teams have players of that caliber at any position to just put in another Rob Gronkowski or put in another Vince Wilfork or put in another Jerod Mayo.
“Whoever is in there is going to have to fulfill some of those duties, but it may expand to more people, like we ended up having to do offensively, using more four-receiver sets instead of three receivers and a tight end or something like that.”