Rob Gronkowski Injury: Updates on Patriots Star's Recovery from Back Surgery

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski initially suffered a back injury against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 and aggravated it in Week 12 against the New York Jets. The injury will require surgery. Gronkowski has been placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Continue for updates.


Dan Gronkowski Comments on Brother's Surgery

Thursday, Dec. 15

"It wasn’t as major as his other back surgeries, so I think he actually felt better after the surgery because it takes some pressure off," Dan Gronkowski said on Wednesday night on WCVB, per WEEI.com's Ryan Hannable. "He’s always a goofball. You guys know that by now, but he likes to work hard. He’ll get back into shape."


Latest on Gronkowski's Recovery

Sunday, Dec. 4

"[Gronkowski's] surgery Friday, a successful one performed by Dr. Robert Watkins in California, was his third to repair a herniated disc. While some debate his future status with the team—the Patriots absolutely plan for him to be on the team in 2017 and beyond—it's clear Gronk's future just got very difficult and very complicated," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted on Sunday. He continued:

Gronkowski's injury is not likely to be career-ending. But it might give him back pain and flare-ups through his career. He might have to play in pain. It also, according to a former Patriots doctor, could force him to have a very serious conversation before he returns to the field.

"Could he play again? Yes, definitely," said Dr. Thomas Gill, the Patriots' team doctor until 2014 and Director of the Boston Sports Medicine and Research Institute. "But he'll need to take a long hard look at it, talk to his family, his surgeon, his agent, discuss whether he wants to keep playing. That's a personal decision he'll need to reflect on. He'll need to work it out with his family."

Gill has not examined Gronkowski's most recent injury. But he does have years of experience doing so for current players and would-be players at the NFL Scouting Combine. Gill said he's not aware of a player who has had three spine surgeries that played for the Patriots.


Gronkowski Hits IR

Saturday, Dec. 3

The Patriots announced Gronkowski has been placed on injured reserve and will not return this season. Running back D.J. Foster has been promoted to the active roster.


Belichick Comments on Gronkowski's Injury

Friday, Dec. 2

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed Gronkowski's situation on Friday, per NESN's Doug Kyed:

Everyone has the information about Rob. Obviously we're all disappointed. No one has worked harder than Rob and been a better teammate and all of that. Hopefully things will work out positively as possible with him. All the information we gave you, certainly that's all we have for now. I'm sure there will be more coming in as we go through the next few days. We'll take it as it comes. It's an unfortunate situation for him.


Gronkowski to Undergo Surgery

Thursday, Dec. 1

The Patriots released a statement on Gronkowski's situation:

With the help of the Patriots medical staff, along with the consultation of several medical experts, it has been determined that it is in Rob's best long-term interest to undergo surgery to address his lower back injury.  Rob is expected to have surgery tomorrow.  We do not expect that he will be able to play for the remainder of the 2016 season, but will await the results of tomorrow's surgery before making a final determination.  Rob has always been one of our hardest workers and was voted captain for the leadership he provides on our team. We are deeply saddened any time a player is lost to injury.  We are committed to assisting Rob throughout his recovery and look forward to his return to playing football for the New England Patriots.

Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News first reported the news.


Gronkowski Is Irreplaceable for Patriots

Gronkowski is one of the league's most valuable offensive weapons thanks to his route-running versatility and the matchup problems he creates with his size and athleticism. That's why he caught at least 10 touchdowns in five of his first six NFL seasons.

The only thing capable of slowing the 27-year-old Arizona product is injury. He hasn't played all 16 regular-season games since 2011. He missed the start of the current campaign with a hamstring issue, and a chest injury sidelined him for New England's Week 11 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Martellus Bennett will once again take over as New England's top tight end with Gronk out. However, Bennett is also dealing with an ankle injury that has limited him, per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. The situation could also create a rare opportunity for Matt Lengel or Greg Scruggs to get involved in the offense.

The Patriots offense won't be nearly as effective without Gronkowski, who attracts significant defensive attention when he's on the field. That said, having Tom Brady at quarterback tends to lessen the impact of what would be a crushing blow to most teams.

    

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