FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The long wait for Rob Gronkowski’s season debut might be over.
New England’s standout tight end “has now been cleared by all his doctors to play Sunday in the Jets game,” Drew Rosenhaus, his agent, said Friday.
Gronkowski’s return would be good news for the Patriots, who have struggled on offense, and bad news for the New York Jets, who would have to find a way to stop the two-time Pro Bowl selection.
“Gronk” was questionable on the Patriots’ injury report for the fifth straight week, meaning the team lists his chances of playing Sunday at 50-50.
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Gronkowski had offseason surgery on his back and broken left forearm. But he participated in every practice on a limited basis since the season began, and has watched as the Patriots opened 5-1.
His status for each game has drawn plenty of attention, with reporters surrounding his locker for his weekly media availability.
Gronkowski has 187 catches in his 43 games with the Patriots and set league records in 2011 for tight ends with 1,327 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns.
Titans QB Locker to have input
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jake Locker has passed his practice test, doing what the Tennessee Titans wanted all week and increasing his work each day.
The decision on who starts against San Francisco on Sunday rests with coaches, trainers and the ex-Washington Huskies quarterback himself.
“We’re not really leaning any way,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said after practice. “Jake is doing well. He did everything today we wanted him to do.”
Munchak said the challenge is deciding if Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick starts. Locker will have a big say in the discussions.
“We really want to get a feel for what he feels he can do well and what his limitations may or may not be,” Munchak said.
Locker sprained his right hip and knee Sept. 29 in a victory over the Jets and has missed two games.
Phillips dies at 90
HOUSTON – Former coach Oail “Bum” Phillips Jr. died Friday at his ranch in Goliad, Texas. He was 90.
Phillips had an 82-77 record.
Phillips coached the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1980 and went 55-35. He was 27-42 with New Orleans from 1981 to 1985.
His son, Wade Phillips, is defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.
• Atlanta receiver Roddy White, who has ankle and hamstring injuries, will miss the first game of his nine-year career Sunday. The Falcons (1-4) host Tampa Bay (0-5).
• An associate of former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to an accessory-to-murder charge and was ordered held on $500,000 bail. Carlos Ortiz — also a key witness in the case — entered his plea in Fall River (Mass.) Superior Court during his arraignment on a single count of being an accessory to murder after the fact in the killing of Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Lloyd, a 27-year-old semipro player from Boston.