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Rob Gronkowski Injury Update: TE Reportedly Will Miss 8 Weeks with Back Surgery

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2016

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots looks on during the second quarter of 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 will have back surgery Friday, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport

The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci reported Gronkowski suffered a ruptured disk during New England's Week 10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and is expected to miss eight weeks. ESPN's Adam Schefter (via NFL on ESPN) confirmed Gronkowski's eight-week recovery time line.

The Patriots would later release a statement:

During the Seattle game on November 13, Rob sustained a hit to the chest that resulted in a pulmonary contusion to his lung.  Rob was examined by several specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital as directed by the team, as well as an independent physician. He received medical clearance to return to play two weeks later for the New York Jets game on November 27.  After a hit early in the Jets game, Rob began to experience significant back and leg pain.  This injury forced him to leave the game and he did not return.  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.

Rapoport expects Gronkowski to hit the injured reserve on Friday.

The MMQB's Albert Breer noted what that recovery span would mean regarding the playoffs:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Per @viccarucci, expected recovery time for Gronk is 8 weeks. Super Bowl LI is 9 weeks from Sunday. AFC title game is 7 weeks from Sunday.

Gronkowski appeared in the Patriots' Week 12 victory over the New York Jets. Quarterback Tom Brady targeted him twice, but the four-time Pro Bowler failed to record a reception.

Given his injury, WBZ NewsRadio's Adam Kaufman questioned why Gronkowski was on the field at all:

Adam Kaufman @AdamMKaufman

So, Rob Gronkowski was chasing deep balls vs #Jets with a herniated disc. What a stupid game plan. And where was the medical staff on this?

There's no question how valuable Gronkowski is to New England's offense. He's one of the NFL's best tight ends and the most dynamic threat in the Patriots passing game.

The presence of Martellus Bennett will help to blunt the impact of Gronkowski's injury somewhat. In his first season with the team, Bennett has 42 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games.

MassLive's Kevin Duffy believes New England will also rely more on the running game:

Kevin Duffy @KevinRDuffy

Patriots are gonna utilize the 3 RBs a ton going forward. Blount/Lewis/White averaging 191.5 yards from scrimmage over past two games.

The team has been down this road before. In 2013, Gronkowski was limited to seven games and suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the year. The Patriots reached the AFC Championship Game, where they lost 26-16 to the Denver Broncos.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, New England is 15-6 in games without Gronkowski since he entered the league in 2010.

The Patriots finish the regular season against the Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Attaining the conference's top seed is still achievable for New England.

With the margins much smaller in the playoffs, Gronkowski's absence would loom larger.

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