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Rob Gronkowski leaves game in first quarter with back injury

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski left Sunday's game against the New York Jets late in the first quarter with a back injury, and the team announced his return was questionable.

Up to that point, Gronkowski had been charted on the field for seven of a possible 12 snaps.

Early in the third quarter, the Patriots announced that Gronkowski would not return.

It was unclear which play might have led to the injury, although Gronkowski was the intended receiver on two long incomplete passes in the first quarter. On one of them, a third-and-7 play with 9:04 remaining, Gronkowski landed hard on the ground.

He was back on the field for the following series, however, playing four of five snaps. On the final play of the series, on third-and-7, Gronkowski was the intended receiver up the right sideline on a play in which cornerback Darryl Roberts was in coverage. Roberts might have been fortunate to avoid being called for pass interference, as he appeared to be holding Gronkowski's arm. The pass was incomplete as Gronkowski was unable to come up with a one-handed catch.

That was Gronkowski's last play before heading to the locker room.

Gronkowski had returned to action after a chest injury caused him to miss last Sunday's win over the San Francisco 49ers.