action:article | category:SPORTS0401 | adString:SPORTS0401 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » Football » Patriots/NFL

October 08. 2013 5:12PM

'Gronk' may return Sunday for Patriots


New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski watches drills during training camp at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. (Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

The New England Patriots are optimistic doctors will clear Rob Gronkowski to play this week and that the tight end will make his season debut Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, according to league sources and ESPN.com.

Gronkowski has missed the Patriots' first five games following a series of surgeries on his fractured forearm and ailing back.

ProFootballTalk.com had earlier reported that Gronkowski was expected to return this week.

Dr. James Andrews is serving as an independent physician and is charged with determining whether Gronkowski is cleared to play, a source told ESPN. Andrews is considered the most accomplished orthopedic surgeon in the world, but he didn't operate on Gronkowski.

If Gronkowski plays, it will validate the team's decision to keep him on the 53-man roster rather than placing him on the physically unable to perform list. If not, the Patriots will have wasted a roster spot because Gronkowski would have been eligible to return after missing six games if he'd been placed on the PUP list.

Quarterback Tom Brady depends heavily on Gronkowski, especially in the red zone. The Patriots (4-1) have gone from leading the NFL in touchdowns last season to ranking ahead of only the winless Jacksonville Jaguars this season.

The Patriots are coming off their worst offensive performance of the Brady era, a 13-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in which they failed to score a touchdown, ending Brady's streak of games with at least one touchdown pass at 52.

Gronkowski's health issues began when he fractured his left forearm in the fourth quarter of a 59-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 18, 2012. The injury occurred on an extra point, and Gronkowski (a blocker on the play) underwent surgery the next day.

He returned to action in the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 30. He was charted on the field for 25 snaps that day, a limited workload, and did not look entirely comfortable as he favored the injured forearm while running.

In an AFC Divisional round playoff victory two weeks later over the Houston Texans, Gronkowski landed on his left forearm on the seventh offensive play and re-broke it. He underwent surgery the next day.

About a month later, Gronkowski underwent a third surgery on the forearm, this time for an infection. After then undergoing a series of antibiotic treatments, with doctors feeling confident the infection had been eradicated, Gronkowski had a fourth surgery on the forearm on May 20. That surgery replaced the plate in the forearm, as doctors generally like to remove hardware that has been exposed to infection, and allowed doctors to confirm the infection had indeed been eradicated.

While recovering from the fourth forearm surgery, Gronkowski also underwent surgery on his back — called a microscopic lumbar discectomy — on June 18. Dr. Robert Watkins performed the surgery.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

Q&A with Matt Bonner as he weighs free agency

Keene State mum on suspension of veteran track coach

Morgan Andrews speaks: Notre Dame star undeterred by U.S. U-20 World Cup snub

Mo'ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball

Curt Schilling says smokeless tobacco caused oral cancer

Bill Belichick: Eagles joint practices as productive as any

Big Knockout Boxing has grown from NH debut to Las Vegas attraction

Toronto Blue Jays Minor League System: Philosophy change?

Spring trial likely for former UNH women's hockey coach

Special golf cart helping Vietnam veteran play game he loves article

And so it begins: Equipment distribution starts a new era in Plymouth football

Tailgating changes for UNH football games

Report: Pirates' pitcher Jeff Locke cleared in gambling probe involving childhood friend from Conway

Tim OSullivan: Even with NFL success, NHs Kelly remembers his roots

Chip Kelly: 'Put some Galoshes on and go play'

Survey says Duke the most hated college hoops team in NH

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger's niece, trying to make big time article

Gorham papermill owner Lynn Tilton is getting Yale tennis award

Ex-bank president co-authors racing book

New England Patriots are the most hated NFL team in the world

Travis Hughes: It's time to drastically overhaul minor league hockey in North America

Portsmouth native, 47, conquers 21-mile swim of the English Channel

Bennett to take control of the flags for Granite State Pro Stock Series

Air Force captain serving in NH honored before Red Sox-Yankees crowd at Fenway

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!