Rob Gronkowski will undergo surgery this week, in what will be the fourth procedure on his forearm in just over six months. Gronkowski initially fractured his forearm on Nov. 18 in a win over the Indianapolis Colts. After sitting five games, he returned to the New England Patriots only to re-injure his arm in a divisional playoff win over the Houston Texans. Gronkowski could have been finished there, but he developed an infection in the arm from his second surgery, requiring a third procedure to clean up the mess, and now a fourth to replace a plate in his arm. Patriots fans hope the saga is over, but given Gronkowski's injury history it's tough to tell.
Gronkowski has been one of the league's best pass catchers -- tight end or wide receiver -- since entering the NFL in 2010. In 2011 he set NFL records for the most touchdowns (17) and receiving yards (1,327) by a tight end in a single season and earned his first career Pro Bowl selection. He earned a second nod last season after becoming the first tight end to ever record 10 touchdown receptions in three consecutive seasons. Gronk ended with 11 touchdowns in 2012 while appearing just 11 regular season games.
He is developing a bad reputation for injuries, however, as he is experiencing back problems that may require offseason surgery in addition to his ongoing forearm issues.
Gronkowski returned from the first break in time for the Patriots Week 17 win over the Miami Dolphins, but broke the same arm in a different spot during New England's next game, the divisional playoff win over the Texans, requiring surgery and forcing the Pats to place him on injured reserve. In late February, Gronkowski had a third surgery on the arm, this one to cure an infection.
Now that the 11-week recovery period from that third surgery has come to an end, he will undergo his fourth and hopefully final surgery to determine if the infection is gone and replace the plate in his arm. If Gronkowski appears free of infection, he can begin a new 10-11 week recovery phase, which would allow him to be ready for the start of the season, unless he also requires back surgery.