Rob Gronkowski To Undergo Surgery On Herniated Disk: New England Patriots’ Tight End Expected To Miss Two Months

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will undergo surgery on a herniated disk on Friday, and the injury will reportedly keep him out for two months, according to ESPN. Two months from tomorrow would be the beginning of February, which means that Gronkowski would only be able to return this year if the Patriots reach the Super Bowl, but it’s obviously too early in the process to tell if that’s even a possibility.

In the Patriots’ Week 31-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10, Gronkowski was nailed by Seahawks safety Earl Thomas which reportedly punctured Rob’s lung and forced him to miss New England’s Week 11 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Gronkowski felt healthy enough to return for Week 12 against the New York Jets, but he was only able to stay on the field for seven plays.

When Rob Gronkowski was forced to leave the game in the first quarter, many expected it to be related to the lung injury, and the thinking was that he had possibly come back too soon. On the contrary, the Patriots reported that it was, in fact a back injury that forced Gronkowski to leave the game, and he would be unable to return.

Initially, it was reported that Gronkowski’s injury was not serious, and he was unlikely to miss any time, but upon further testing, doctors found the herniated disk, which will keep Rob out much longer than expected.

Obviously, it’s terrible news for the New England Patriots, who lose their top weapon in the passing game and their best blocking tight end. After all, Rob Gronkowski has hauled in 25 catches for 540 yards this season with three touchdowns despite missing three games and having to play two games with Jacoby Brissett as his starting quarterback.

In five games with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both on the field this season, the Patriots are a combined 4-1, and Gronkowski has caught 24 passes for 529 yards, which is an average of nearly five catches and 106 receiving yards per game.

The good news for the Patriots is that they still have Martellus Bennett on the roster. After acquiring Bennett in an offseason trade with the Chicago Bears, the 29-year-old has caught 42 passes for 540 yards with four touchdowns in 2016. In seven games with Brady at quarterback, Bennett has caught 27 balls for 293 yards and three touchdowns.

Aside from Bennett, New England also recently got running back Dion Lewis back from injured reserve. In two games since his return, Lewis has carried the ball 11 times for 47 yards while catching seven passes for 60 yards. The Patriots love to use his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield to their advantage, and he should get more opportunities the rest of the way with Gronkowski out.

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in the years of watching Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in New England, it’s don’t count out the Patriots no matter what. Sure, the team would rather have Gronkowski on the field to help them make another Super Bowl run, but they will find some other way to be successful as no other team in the NFL embodies the mantra of “Next man up” better than the Patriots.

[Featured Image by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]