Things keep getting worse and worse with Rob Gronkowski.
From two different injuries to the same forearm within the span of a couple months, to the ensuing way too many surgeries and infections that resulted from those, to the new back injury, the Patriots star tight end has gone under the knife an awful lot recently. Albert Breer reported initially that after Gronkowski undergoes back surgery in mid-June he would at least miss training camp time.
It could be worse than that.
Just spoke with a surgeon who does 70-100 disk surgeries a year. Estimates Gronkowski could be out a minimum of 12 weeks from surgery— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) May 29, 2013
12 weeks from mid-June? That puts Gronk's minimum recovery time at around September 7th. That does put Gronk on schedule to just be ready in time for the start of the regular season, but how his recovery goes could play into that significantly. Given how Gronk's recovery from forearm surgery in January has gone, one might think that the possibility of some setbacks remains realistic.
Given how precious roster spots are, and how essential Gronk is to a Patriots playoff run, the team might elect to put him on the Physically Unable to Perform List (PUP) which players that never appear in training camp are qualified for. This would keep Gronk from keeping up a roster spot while he fully recovers but he would be out until Week 6, at which time he would be eligible to return.
This would obviously hurt the Patriots for the first six weeks of the season, but wouldn't you rather have a fully healthy Gronk for that stretch run over the last 10 weeks plus the playoffs? At this point, and after the many surgeries, this could be a very realistic option.