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For only the second time in 12 seasons, Tom Brady doesn’t have Rob Gronkowski with him on his team. Gronkowski retired in 2019, sitting out the entire season, and retired again this offseason.

Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, repeatedly has said he won’t be surprised if the tight end returns at some point this season.

But Gronkowski won’t suit up with the Buccaneers on Sunday, leaving Cameron Brate, Kyle Rudolph, Cade Otton and Ko Kieft as the options at the position for Brady and the team. Otton and Kieft are rookies. Brate and Rudolph have combined for 732 receptions for 7,428 yards and 82 touchdowns.

Gronkowski has 621 receptions for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns in his career.

“You know Gronk’s one of the all-time great players in the league,” Brady said Thursday, via video from Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t think you just put together a team and think that there’s another Gronk out there. There’s only one. The guys that are in there — we drafted a few; we brought in a free agent; Cam’s done a great job with his leadership. You know, it’s really a unit. It’s not one player. It’s a bunch of different players. You’d much rather play with a guy like Gronk than not, but he’s not here. So, we just have to do other things and play to the strengths of the players we have.”