Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski has been in recovery from back surgery that he had all the way back in mid-June. According to the timetable for recovery, Gronk should've been healed a little before the start of the regular season. However, the Patriots are being extra cautious with their best offensive weapon left.

Gronk has practiced on a limited basis the last two weeks, but just recently has started participating in full.

Fellow tight end Michael Hoomanawanui for one feels like that big step has done wonders for the spirit of the team.

“Anytime you can Gronk back out there, I think it help lefts the spirits of the team,” Hoomanawanui said. “Just his personality, obviously what he can do on the football field is great and all, but just having him and his spirits around in a team environment. We see him every day in team meetings and all that but it’s just nice to have him out there with football.”

While that may be true, it doesn't necessarily mean that Gronk will be back to face the Buccaneers this week. The Herald's Karen Guregian reports that the Pats are playing it conservative with Gronkowski, and likely will let him recover one more week.

According to the source, the Pats want Gronk to feel "100 percent confident" at being ready to go. To that end, there's been various reports out there today about how close he is to playing Sunday against Tampa. Based on information from the source, at this stage, we'd say it's "less likely" to happen, than more likely Gronk will get the green light.

That's a strategy that I and most Patriots fans can get behind. The team needs Gronkowski to be healthy for the end of the regular season and the playoffs, not September. If Gronk returns Week 4, that should be plenty of time, however bringing him back after just two weeks might be pushing things.

Of course, if Guregian's source is to be taken for their word, the Patriots are not planning on rushing Gronkowski back. If he does play this week, it would be an indication that the tight end feels 100%.

Michael Saver 9/17/2013 09:35:00 PM Edit

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