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BNOTD: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to undergo back surgery; out up to eight weeks

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Apparently, the star tight end’s injury is worse than initially reported.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the most dominant offensive skill position players in the NFL. However, he has struggled with injuries throughout his career and was able to play all of his team’s games only twice (2010 and 2011).

2016 has been more of the same thus far: Gronkowski dominated his competition on the field and once again showed why he is the best tight end in the NFL. But he played only eight games after a hamstring issue forced him to sit out two games and a chest injury another. He also left last Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a back injury.

While it was initially reported that the issue was only minor and Gronkowski should be back on the field soon, today’s reports paint a different picture (via Vic Carucci):

Hearing from #NFL sources that #Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could be undergoing back surgery.

More on Gronk from #NFL sources: Suffered a ruptured disk vs. #Seahawks, surgery in L.A. Expected to be out eight weeks.

According to Ian Rapoport, Gronkowski will have surgery tomorrow:

#Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski will have back surgery (as @viccarucci mentioned). Injury is worse than anticipated. It’s happening tomorrow.

This is bad news for Gronkowski as the 27-year old has struggled with back injuries before. He was forced to sit out his final collegiate season at Arizona after undergoing surgery, and also had surgery on his back in 2013. Now, he will have to go under the knife again.

If the timeframe given by Carucci turns out to be correct, Gronkowski could potentially return to the field for the Super Bowl. With the Patriots having already used its lone injured reserve returnee spot for rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, though, Gronkowski would have to remain on the active roster until then. This means that if the team opts to put him on injured reserve, his season is over.

No matter what ultimately happens, this is a blow for Gronkowski and the Patriots. From an on-field perspective, the team will lose its most talented offensive skill position player. While New England is better equipped to handle the loss than it has been in the past thanks to the offseason acquisition of Martellus Bennett, it is impossible to replace a player of Gronkowski’s talent one-by-one.

Best of luck, Rob, and may the surgery be a successful one!