The Patriots didn’t wait around to replace injured star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Sunday.
A league source confirmed that Gronkowski tore his ACL and also suffered damage to his MCL, which Pro Football Talk and ESPN earlier reported, and will have a lengthy rehabilitation this offseason that could put his availability for the start of the 2014 season in question.
Late on Monday afternoon, the team announced that Gronkowski had been placed on injured reserve, a move that officially ends his season.
The team re-signed journeyman tight end D.J. Williams.
Gronkowski took a hit from Cleveland’s T.J. Ward squarely in his knee in the third quarter Sunday, and was carted off the field. He had 39 catches for 592 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this year after sitting out the first six games with back and forearm injuries, and will likely finish his season on injured reserve for the second straight season.
The Patriots desperately need tight end help with Gronkowski injured iand Michael Hoomanawanui working his way back from a sprained knee.
Williams, a fifth-round pick by Green Bay in 2011, has only nine catches for 70 yards in three NFL seasons with the Packers and Jaguars, but is more of an athletic pass catcher than Hoomanawanui or No. 3 tight end Matthew Mulligan.
He signed with the Patriots before their Week 13 win at Houston. He played four snaps, didn’t catch a pass and was released last week.