Rob Gronkowski injury: Patriots star could be back next week, expected back by Week 4

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have a timetable on the return of their star tight end.

Rob Gronkowski missed the majority of the the Patriots' offseason program recovering from multiple surgeries, but he could be back soon. On Thursday, NFL Network gave a clear indication when the star tight end will return, revealing that Gronkowski could be back as early as Week 3.

The Patriots have undergone offensive upheaval this offseason as the team elected to part ways with receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, while cutting Aaron Hernandez due to his arrest. Gronkowski represents Tom Brady's best chance at offensive continuity with Danny Amendola scheduled to miss the next 2-to-6 weeks due to a groin injury, making the tight end's return more important than ever.

Week 3 is a possibility, but the report guarantees Gronkowski will return the following week otherwise. He missed five games in 2012 due to injury, but managed to amass 790 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in a partial season.

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