FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots must get used to playing without Rob Gronkowski again.
The star tight end who missed the first six games while recovering from surgeries is done for the season after being placed on injured reserve Monday with a damaged right knee.
That experience could help the Patriots handle his absence.
“I’d like to think there’s going to be some carry-over there, not only (from) the first six weeks of the season, but the entire training camp as well,” coach Bill Belichick said Monday. “That’s the way we practiced and played most of the year.”
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Gronkowski was hurt midway through the third quarter of the Patriots’ 27-26 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday when he was hit on the knee by safety T.J. Ward after a 21-yard reception.
The Patriots were 5-1 while Gronkowski recovered from offseason operations on his left forearm and back. In the next six games, he led all NFL tight ends with 37 catches and 560 yards receiving and they were 4-2. But the offense was much more productive.
Gronkowski caught touchdown passes in four consecutive games before making just two receptions for 32 yards against the Browns.
He suffered a torn ACL and damaged MCL, a person familiar with the injury said Monday.
Shanahan might bench RG III
WASHINGTON — Mike Shanahan, still for now the coach of the Washington Redskins, made a surprising reversal Monday and said he might bench a “100 percent” healthy Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season to keep the quarterback from getting hurt.
Shanahan essentially declared it might be more beneficial for Griffin to get offseason snaps in May rather than game experience over the next three weeks. The coach, for the first time, then explicitly left open the possibility that he might not return next year, saying his future will be decided after he meets with owner Dan Snyder at the end of the season.
Shanahan’s departure appears more likely than ever after the Redskins (3-10) were embarrassed 45-10 by Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, a fifth straight loss that ensures a third season of double-digit losses in the coach’s four seasons in Washington.
“You always want to come back. I love these guys,” Shanahan said. “What’ll happen at the end of the season, we’ll get a chance, Dan and I, to sit down and decide — he’ll make the final decision on what’s the best interest of the Washington Redskins. I’ll give my opinion and what I think, and obviously he’ll make the final decision.”
• Adrian Peterson entered the Vikings’ locker room with his right foot in a walking boot. Peterson seemed relieved that initial exams did not reveal serious damage in his foot.
Peterson said an MRI “came back great,” and showed no torn ligaments. He also said tests ruled out a dreaded Lisfranc injury. Peterson had a CT scan scheduled Monday afternoon to examine the bone. Coach Leslie Frazier also indicated that the team would consult with a foot specialist.
Peterson won’t need surgery on his foot, according to a league source. The team will know more once Peterson is out of the walking boot and is able to run.
Meanwhile, after Peterson complained that he was pelted with snowballs during a 29-26 loss at M&T Bank Stadium and called the Baltimore Ravens’ fans the worst in the NFL, Ravens coach John Harbaugh weighed in on the situation.
“Who doesn’t throw snowballs when it snows?” Harbaugh said. “Maybe Minnesota, because they’re so used to snow. Maybe that has gotten old for them. I don’t know. What do you want me to say? We have the best fans in the NFL.”
• An MRI shows Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart, the former star from Timberline High in Lacey, tore the MCL in his right knee in Sunday night’s 31-13 loss to New Orleans. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Stewart will be out a minimum of 10 days, but remains optimistic he could return at some point this season.
• Falcons coach Mike Smith said offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has interviewed the coaching job at Boise State, where he was the coach from 1998-2000. Boise State is looking for a new coach after Chris Petersen was hired by the Huskies.