We are still five months away from the start of the regular season, but there is concern regarding whether Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be able to play by then. Once again, Gronkowski's left forearm is to blame. According to the Boston Herald, that forearm, which has undergone three operations in the past five months, now has a "stubborn" infection in the area around a metal plate that was installed following Gronkowski's second forearm break of the season.
"Doctors treating Gronkowski will have to go back into the arm again to remove the plate and install a new one," the Herald's Ron Borges and Karen Guregian wrote, "but if they find more infected tissue, they would be unable to install the plate at that time. That would require another surgical procedure after the tissue around the injury is clear of infection and, sources confirmed, that would not give Gronkowski the required 10 weeks of healing time to be ready for the season opener in September."
There is still hope that Gronkowski's infection can be handled through non-surgical means, but ESPN Boston said Sunday afternoon that surgery is "very likely."
It's hard to say if Gronk will be ready for Week 1 since his recovery timetable is up in the air right now. We still need to find out if he will indeed undergo surgery and, if he does, how long he will have to wait for the tissue around the plate area to heal up so the new plate can be installed. It's one big holding pattern right now. The good news, I guess, is that is that there is time. Gronk still has a shot to play a full 16 games if the infection clears quickly. It's way too early to discuss if or where to drop him in the tight end rankings. When healthy, he's the No. 1 guy.