Rob Gronkowski's status for the New England Patriots' season opener against the Buffalo Bills is still uncertain, according to ESPN's Ed Werder. Gronkowski is still recovering from back surgery to correct a nagging injury, and though sources say he is progressing, there is still no definite timetable for his return.
Currently, Gronkowski is doing rehab work with team trainers, concentrating primarily on stretching and improving core strength. He still appears to be headed for the physically unable to perform list to open training camp later this month.
The PUP list designation wouldn't be too serious. Essentially, it would allow the Patriots to add another player in practice while Gronkowski rehabs. If Gronkowski is on the PUP list to start the season, however, he would be forced to miss New England's first six games.
If Gronkowski is forced to sit to start the season, the Patriots will have to dig down the depth chart for starting tight ends. Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells could all see extensive playing time. Fortunately for the Pats, all three have been productive pass catchers in the past, if not quite up to the elite standards of Gronkowski and the beleaguered Aaron Hernandez.