FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots placed tight end Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve Monday with a damaged right knee.
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.
Gronkowski missed the first six games this season after forearm and back surgeries and the Patriots went 5-1. In the next six games, he led all NFL tight ends with 37 catches and 560 yards receiving. They were 4-2 in those games, but the offense was much more productive.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that experience without Gronkowski could help.
"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," he said. "That's the way we practiced and played most of the year, including the preseason games and that's what, 10 games? So, it was great to have him back and he was, obviously, a big contributor for us."
Gronkowski caught touchdown passes in the last four games. On Sunday, he had two catches for 32 yards.
Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL and damaged MCL, a person familiar with the injury said Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not release those details.
Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said Monday he didn't know whether Ward's hit on Gronkowski resulted from a reluctance to hit a player high and possibly incur a fine for helmet-first contact.
"From my vantage point, I think he was trying to get Gronkowski down on the ground," Chudzinski said. "A big guy coming at you that way is tough to get on the ground, so I don't know that it has to do with the rules other than trying to get the guy on the ground. Certainly, we feel terrible about that (injury). He's a great player, and (we) hope that he has a speedy recovery."
The Patriots signed tight end D.J. Williams to the 53-man roster.
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