The Patriots will likely place Rob Gronkowski on their active roster. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The New England Patriots are "leaning toward" placing Rob Gronkowski on the active, 53-man roster on Saturday, NFL.com's Albert Breer reported on Thursday. According to Breer, the Patriots do not want to place him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which would prevent him from playing or practicing in the first six weeks of the season.
Breer reported that Gronkowski is still not likely to return until at least late September. The Patriots are betting that he can make a return by then. That would give the team two to three extra games with Gronkowski in the lineup that he would not be allowed to participate in if he were placed on the PUP list.
In addition to the four surgeries Gronkowski has had on his left forearm, the 24-year-old also had back surgery in the offseason. He did not play in any preseason games.
With Gronkowski out and Aaron Hernandez incarcerated, the Patriots have turned to rookie Zach Sudfeld in the preseason. In three games, he caught six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.