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Patriots downgrade Rob Gronkowski to out vs. Bears

Rob Gronkowski has been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bears.
Rob Gronkowski has been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bears.(Steven Senne/AP)

CHICAGO – The Patriots officially downgraded Rob Gronkowski to out after the All-Pro tight end didn’t travel Sunday morning for the game against the Bears as he deals with a back ailment.

Gronkowski, who has been on the injury report because of a balky ankle the last few weeks, didn’t travel with the team Saturday and was labeled as “doubtful.” The team didn’t rule him out then because there was still a glimmer of hope that he could travel to Chicago on his own.

This is the first missed game of the season for Gronkowski, who is second on the team with 26 catches for a team-high 405 yards and a touchdown.

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The Patriots also will be without fellow tight end Jacob Hollister, who is dealing with a hamstring injury. The lone healthy tight end is Dwayne Allen, who has just one catch for minus-4 yards on the season. Fullback James Develin, who does lots of work with the tight ends, could be used in that capacity as well.

Defensive ends John Simon (shoulder) and Geneo Grissom (ankle) also were declared out Saturday night.

Gronkowski has started all six games for the Patriots this season. He has caught 26 of 35 passes thrown his way for 405 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers aren’t especially prolific by his high standards, but Gronkowski’s importance to the offense was evident when Tom Brady went his way in the final, critical moments of the Chiefs game last Sunday.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.