New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after being knocked out of the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. The tight end took a hard helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church shortly after making his only catch of the game, and went straight to the Patriots locker room afterward.

A visibly shaken Gronkowski entered the concussion protocol shortly after leaving due to the hit and did not return. Church received an unnecessary roughness penalty for the play, which helped set up the Patriots for their late-second-quarter touchdown that cut the Jaguars’ lead to 14-10 at the time.

The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reported after the game that while Gronkowski is in the protocol, there is “optimism” that he will be cleared in time for Super Bowl LII in two weeks at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Rob Gronkowski is hit by Barry Church of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski is hit by Barry Church of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Gronk’s status for the game is sure to be one of the major storylines for the next two weeks. Of course, the Patriots will want him on the field even if he has to be a “decoy” like he was in Super Bowl XLVI. But after Tom Brady’s fourth-quarter comeback and Danny Amendola’s latest clutch performance, Patriots fans must feel good about the Pats’ ability to score in the Super Bowl with or without a healthy Gronk.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.