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Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski out vs. Bears with back injury

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 10/21/2018 Nate Davis

a close up of a person wearing a helmet: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is out Week 7, the first game he's missed in 2018. © Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is out Week 7, the first game he's missed in 2018. Patriots star Rob Gronkowski has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Chicago.

New England's all-pro tight end had initially been listed as questionable with a back injury and wound up not making the trip with the team.

The oft-injured Gronk, who absorbs nearly as much punishment as he doles out, has not played a full 16-game regular season since 2011, his second year in the NFL.

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He has 26 catches for 405 yards and one TD in 2018. 

Dwayne Allen, a blocking specialist, should pick up the bulk of Gronkowski's snaps against the Bears, who have allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league.

Though Allen is unlikely to command the number of targets Gronk does, Tom Brady still has plenty of capable targets in running back James White (team-high 37 catches), and receivers Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and newly acquired Josh Gordon, who's steadily seen more action since being traded by Cleveland last month.

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Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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