With Rob Gronkowski still rehabbing from back surgery earlier this offseason, the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin is reporting that it is very likely the Patriots tight end will miss the first six weeks of the regular season while on the team’s PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
Gronk has been in street clothes throughout training camp, recovering from back surgery for a herniated disc on June 18th. It’s the same surgery he had in September 2009 when he was at the University of Arizona. It took Gronk more than five months to recover from the first operation.
Even though Gronk isn’t available for interviews with the media until he comes off the PUP list, he has provided insight into what the recovery process was like after the first surgery. Volin picks out some telling excerpts from the book, Growing Up Gronk:
When he first got out of surgery, “he felt like an anchor was strapped to his back,” [co-author Jeff] Schober wrote. “Movements were limited and tentative. A sudden shift drew sharp daggers raking against his spine.”
“His body needed to remain straight and avoid sideways movements for six weeks afterward.”
“I just chilled for a month and a half, sitting on the couch,” Gronkowski said. “That’s basically all you can do.”
“Once you have back surgery, you have to lay off,” said his father, Gordy Gronkowski. “You need to stay still for three weeks. You can walk, but never bend. You can’t turn. You get out of bed a certain way.”
Per NFL rules, players are ineligible to return to action until Week 6 if they start the season on the PUP list. The Patriots have up until Week 1 to remove him for the list or to shelf him for a third of the regular season.
It won’t be a surprise if Gronk is held out of action until Week 6, especially considering he has also undergone a handful of forearm surgeries within the past year. Back injuries are nothing to mess with and the Patriots don’t want to risk bringing Gronk back before he’s ready and having their star tight end injure himself again, possibly doing irreversible damage.
Knowing the way the Patriots do things, we probably won’t know Gronk’s outlook for certain until late in camp. Frankly, as a Pats fan, I would be more comfortable with #87 getting the extra recovery time.