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New England Patriots place Rob Gronkowski on IR

The New England Patriots officially have ended Rob Gronkowski's season.

The team placed Gronkowski on injured reserve Thursday, confirming all the reports that the Pro Bowl tight end would not be able to return to the field this season because of his forearm injury. Gronkowski's absence will open up a roster spot for the Patriots. He reportedly underwent surgery earlier this week.

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We've heard arguments that Gronkowski's absence won't hurt the Patriots much. The Patriots actually averaged slightly more points per game without Gronkowski than with him. That's a ridiculous argument for many reasons, including that Gronkowski is the best overall tight end in football.

ESPNBoston.com noted that the Patriots averaged 6.0 yards per play when Gronkowski was on the field this season and 5.4 yards per play when he was off it. Tom Brady's completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception numbers also suffered without Gronkowski.

The Patriots have the rare offense that can survive the absence of an All-Pro player. But they won't be nearly as dangerous with Gronkowski sidelined.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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