The Boston Herald today reported New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could be facing a fourth surgery on his broken arm, a move that could threaten Gronkowski's ability to be ready for the year.
Doctors, according to the Herald's sources, need to remove the plate covering the broken portion of Gronkowski's arm to search for infected tissue. The Pro Bowl tight end has been battling a stubborn infection in the arm since January. As the current six-week antibiotic round completes, doctors want to inspect the site for any further infection. If none is found, a new plate would be put back over the fracture, starting the 10-week heal time required before Gronkowski could return to football activities. However, if the infection remains, a new plate would not be able to be placed on the injury, and the 10-week clock would not start until the infection is cleared and a new plate installed.
When the surgery would take place has not been determined. Gronkowski, his agent Drew Rosenhaus, team officials and doctors, are expected to meet next week to plan how they will proceed.
Gronkowki broke his forearm in the team's Week 11 game against the Indianapolis Colts. He missed five weeks, returning in the regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins. After the first round bye in the playoffs, Gronkowski was injured again in the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Houston Texans. The second forearm injury was a break of the same bone, just above the plate for the previous fracture.
In a year when the Miami Dolphins are obviously making a push to catch up to the Patriots atop the AFC East, the Patriots could be without two of the main targets for quarterback Tom Brady at the start of the 2013 season. New England lost wide receiver Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos in free agency this year, and now the news about Gronkowski's injury complications.
The Patriots will open their season September 7th (or 8th if on Monday Night Football). For more on Gronkowski and the Patriots, check out Pats Pulpit.