The Miami Dolphins will likely face the New England Patriots without Rob Gronkowski because the Pro Bowl tight end has been suspended one game for violating the NFL's unnecessary roughness rules in Sunday's 23-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Gronkowski pounced on a defenseless Tre'Davious White after the Bills cornerback pulled down an interception on a pass intended for Gronkowski. The eight-year veteran appeared to drive his arm into White's head, and the rookie suffered a concussion.
White is in the NFL's concussion protocol program because of Gronkowski's hit. Gronkowski apologized after the game, saying he let his emotions get the best of him.
In a letter to Gronkowski explaining the suspension, Jon Runyan, the NFL's Vice President of Football Operations wrote that "your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury.
"The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.' Those hits include the play you were involved in," Runyan wrote.
Gronkowski will appeal Runyan's ruling, which is his right under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the appeal will be heard and decided on by former NFL players Derrick Brooks and James Thrash, the officers jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA.
Last week, Brooks and Thrash lowered the two-game suspension Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree received for their chain snatching fight down to one game, so there's a possibility that Gronkowski might suit up against the Dolphins for Monday night's nationally televised game, which will be played at Hard Rock Stadium.
Before learning of the suspension, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said Monday afternoon that he planned to prepare his team to face a Patriots squad that featured Gronkowski, who has caught 55 passes for 849 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
"That's out of my hands," Gase said. "We're 1/8preparing3/8 like he's going to be there until somebody tells us different."
The last time Miami played New England, which was eight days ago, Gronkowski caught five passes for 82 yards and scored two touchdowns. He's annually been a mismatch the Dolphins have struggled to defend.
If Gronkowski doesn't play expect Dwayne Allen, a tight end the Patriots traded for this offseason, to serve as New England's starter. Allen, who spent four of his first five seasons as a starter for the Indianapolis Colts, has contributed five receptions for 40 yards and scored one touchdown this season.
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