When it comes to NFL tight ends, Rob Gronkowski may be the golden standard when on the field, but the New England Patriots star does have one flaw: He struggles to stay healthy. On Wednesday, the four-time Pro Bowler popped up on the Patriots' injury report yet again, this time with a thigh injury, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. The dominant tight end is listed as questionable for Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

How serious is the injury?

It's hard to imagine that the injury is very serious, but all we can do is speculate based on the facts at hand.

Gronkowski played all 70 offensive snaps in the Patriots' Week 4 loss to the Carolina Panthers, suggesting that he wasn't dealing with any sort of ailment over the course of that game. Given the short week due to their Week 5 game being on Thursday night, the Patriots have not had a standard practice since Sunday's game, per Reiss, so it's difficult to imagine how Gronkowski could have injured himself over the past few days. Reiss also mentioned that Gronkowski "didn't appear to be ailing when he met with reporters late Tuesday afternoon."

Perhaps the best news on Gronkowski's status has been that he made the trip to Tampa Bay, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

Gronkowski's health should never be taken for granted, as the 28-year-old played in just 45 of a possible 64 games from 2013 through 2016, but it's difficult to envision this being something that keeps Gronkowski from playing Thursday night given his snap count on Sunday, his lack of action since the game, and the fact that he traveled to Tampa Bay.

That being said, it looks like we could be looking at a game-time decision. If Gronkowski were to miss Week 5's contest with the Buccaneers, he would fortunately have a full 10 days to prepare for the New York Jets.

What if Gronkowski can't play?

Gronkowski would obviously be a huge loss for the Patriots if he can't play. He ranks third among tight ends in catches with 20, second in yards with 318, and second in touchdowns with two.

To top it all off, his elite run-blocking makes him the league's overall highest-graded tight end, according to Pro Football Focus.

The next man up in Gronk's absence would be Dwayne Allen, whom the Patriots acquired along with a sixth-round draft pick over the offseason for a fourth-round pick. Allen has been playing about 25 snaps per game, performing serviceably as a run-blocker but doing little else.

He has been targeted six times in the passing game but has yet to haul in any of Tom Brady's passes.

A third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, Allen has long been a bit of an underachiever. After a promising rookie year in which he averaged 2.8 receptions and 32.6 yards per game on a 68.2-percent catch rate, Allen has never been able to match or exceed those marks over the course of a season. In 45 games since his rookie year, Allen has averaged just 1.8 receptions for 20.6 yards on a catch rate of 58.3 percent, which is very low for a big-bodied tight end. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Allen does have 19 touchdowns in 61 career games, so he offers some red-zone upside, but he hasn't shown much else over the course of his career.

Tom Brady has turned lesser talents than Allen into productive pass-catchers, but the 27-year-old tight end would still be a huge downgrade if Gronkowski can't play.