The most talked about injured player of the off-season has to be Rob Gronkowski, beating some quality competition. The tight end is going to undergo back surgery, which means the best end zone target the New England Patriots have isn’t going to be available for the beginning of next season.
At the moment, the recovery time is projected at 12 weeks, although with Gronkowski, it’s impossible to know. The surgeries on his elbow haven’t gone according to plan, healing a lot slower than initially thought. Right now, his comeback date is marked as September 10, two days after the opening game. If he’s ready for the 10th, he’ll be ready for the 8th, but the concern is that it’s going to take longer than that.
Considering he won’t be able to take part in any of the minicamps, training camps and preseason activities, Gronkowski will be way behind the curb by the time he gets back. That means it wouldn’t be wise to throw him out there to preform the role he has been for the last couple of seasons without any kind of easing-in period. That means an even longer time off the field.
How long? There’s the option of putting him on the PUP list to free up a roster spot, but it will also mean their number one tight end and possible number one overall receiver, considering the current crop of targets Tom Brady has in front of him, will be out for the first six weeks of the season.
Being realistic, Gronkowski won’t be ready until week 2 or 3, maybe even a bit later. Putting him on the PUP list takes the risk of re-injuring his back or arm on the field, but makes the Patriots a limited team for the first month and a bit of the season. Considering the fact that he’s an equal threat to himself off the field as much as when facing huge linebackers, maybe bringing him back early is the wise thing to do.