Earl Thomas hits so hard he may have have punctured Rob Gronkowski's lung

The New England Patriots tight end could miss more time through injury this season

Earl Thomas hits so hard he may have have punctured Rob Gronkowski's lung

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski watches action from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Rob Gronkowski faces another spell on the sidelines with injury after he suffered an apparent punctured lung against Seattle on Sunday. 

The New England Patriots' tight end was cleaned out by Earl Thomas, the Seahawks free safety, and may have a lung injury as a result, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. 

Gronowski has already missed two games at the start of this season as a result of injury, and looks set for some more time off the field as he looks to recover.

Although there has been no official confirmation, Gronkowski could miss the next game on the schedule for the Patriots, which is against San Francisco 49ers. That will come as a blow to coach Bill Belichick, in particular after his team were beaten 31-24 by the Seahawks on the night.

However, with Martellus Bennett playing well this season, there is cover available in Gronkowski's position, while Chip Kelly has struggled to a 1-9 record with a poor 49ers squad, making the Pats heavy favourites even without their star tight end.

Speaking after the game, Gronk said that he had no complaints with the tackle, and it was a good, clean hit from Thomas. 

"That was a big hit, probably one of the hardest I've got hit in my career, for sure. By a good, fast player who's like a missile. It was a good, clean hit. I just took it and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that's all.

"If you've ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it's a little tough to breath, but once it comes back, you're good. Nothing against it. He hit me fair and square. It's football. You're going to get laid out eventually."