Rob Gronkowski Won’t Play In Season Opener, Expected To Return By Week 3

Rob Gronkowski will not be ready for Week 1, but the New England Patriots tight end could be back from his back and forearm surgeries sooner rather than later.

Sources close to the Patriots say Gronkowski’s rehab is moving along on schedule for him to return Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some sources say he could even be close to ready to play Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, but the team won’t rush his return.

There was some talk that the team could put Rob Gronkowski on the physically unable to perform list, which would keep him out until at least Week 6 but also free up a roster spot to start the year. But given the reports that he will be ready for a key Week 4 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, that seems an unlikely possibility.

Although he’s had a very promising start to his career, putting up numbers that would easily get him to the Hall of Fame if spread out over a long career, Gronkowski has been plagued by injuries. In the offseason he underwent a number of surgeries, some to repair an infection in his once-broken arm and others for his ailing back.

In his absence, the Patriots have question marks at the tight end position. With Aaron Hernandez in jail on first-degree murder charges, the team has turned to Jake Ballard to take over some of the blocking duties and undrafted rookie Zach Sudfeld is expected to be a pass-catching tight end.

It remains to be seen if Gronkowski will be able to return to his otherworldly form, but the Patriots are likely counting on it. The team lost some big offensive weapons in the offseason, including Hernandez and wide receiver Wes Welker, and Gronkowski will be counted on to play a big role in the offense.

Rob Gronkowski is coming off a season where he made 55 catches for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns, but saw his season abruptly ended with a broken forearm. Gronkowski’s 2011 season also ended with an injury, though the played in the Super Bowl with a badly injured ankle.

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