Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could face suspension vs. Miami Dolphins

Patriots Gronkowski suspended one game for late hit

The suspension, which Gronkowski reportedly is appealing, also would prevent him from reaching the 90 percent play time benchmark, as he already missed one game earlier this season with an injury.

If Gronkowski chooses to serve the suspension, the Patriots will turn to Dwyane Allen as the starting tight end.

With White on the ground, Gronkowski threw himself at White, appearing to injure him with a late hit. But NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan did not accept Gronkowski's defense.

"Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury", Runyan said in the press release. "The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.' Those hits involve the play you were involved in yesterday".

White was lying face-down after he intercepted a Tom Brady pass when Gronkowski dove into him, driving his arm into the back of White's helmet.

Even with the suspension, Gronkowski shouldn't have much trouble reaching the second tier, as he needs a total of just 15 catches or 151 receiving yards over the New England's final three games to do so.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick apologized to Bills coach Sean McDermott for Gronkowski's hit, calling the hit "bull--". He's on his way to a fourth 1,000-yard season, with 849 through 11 contests. I was just really frustrated in that moment, and it just happened naturally through emotions and frustration.

"First of all, I definitely want to apologize to [White]".

"I kind of felt like he pushed me a little bit and made the play, and I just don't understand why there wasn't a flag", Gronkowski said of the play. "I don't really believe in the type of shots like that". It was unclear what McDermott said to Belichick to elicit that response from the Patriots coach. Losing Gronkowski against the Dolphins (5-7) marks a less-than-ideal blow to the Patriots (10-2), but it's one they should still be able to overcome against a team they outclassed in a 35-17 home win on November 26.

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