Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will reportedly undergo back surgery for a herniated disk and will be out indefinitely. Some reports have the tight end missing up to eight weeks.
The Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci was the first to report that Gronkowski supposedly suffered the ruptured disk against the Seattle Seahawks. Gronkowski then missed the game against the San Francisco 49ers but returned albeit briefly against the New York Jets.
Some have questioned why if he had a herniated disk did Gronkowski play last week. Without having access to the big man’s medical file, some disk herniation can be a minor issue with non-surgical treatment helping on getting the disks back in place. Perhaps he re-aggravated it worse early in the Jets game and the Patriots doctors decided it was time to have the surgery.
If the 8-week time window holds true, the earliest he could return would be if the Patriots made the Super Bowl.
What this means for the Patriots offense: No way around this one…this is a big loss for the Patriots offense. Gronkowski is not only the biggest weapon in the Patriots offense, he’s the best tight end in the NFL. This will change the Patriots offense, but at least the coaches have time to implement their changes before the playoffs start.
However, unlike previous seasons where Gronkowski was either missing or limited in the playoffs in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the team isn’t caught as short this time. This was exactly the scenario that they brought Martellus Bennett in for.
Bennett is an excellent weapon in his own right, but right now he’s banged up himself with a bad ankle. But with a combination of either he and James Develin, the team won’t be bare in the cupboard.
The silver lining here is that Malcolm Mitchell is picking a great time to get hot. The rookie WR from Georgia has been really turning it on in recent weeks and his emergence in the passing offense means that the team can go with more three and four wide receiver sets using he, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola.
The return of Dion Lewis coupled with James White out of the backfield means that while the team will definitely miss Gronk, they have plenty of other weapons for Tom Brady to use.
Gronkowski’s situation will bear monitoring as the team will have to carry him on the active roster, which takes away a roster spot. If they were to put him on IR, he’d have to be out the entire 8 weeks and it means that they can only bring back one player. Right now QB Jacoby Brissett has begun practicing again and the Patriots have a 23-day window to either re-activate him or place him on season-ending IR.
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