Rob Gronkowski has yet to be cleared to return to the Patriots. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Reports earlier this week had Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski likely to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Saints. A Friday morning Pro Football Talk report said the Pro Bowler has yet to be cleared and that there is less optimism surrounding his return.
Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will have final say over Gronkowski's return after evaluating scans of his twice-broken arm.
WEEI.com reported Thursday that Gronkowski became concerned over the initial surgery performed by Patriots physician Dr. Tom Gill.
WEEI.com has learned from multiple industry sources that the arm, injured initially on Nov. 18, 2012, against the Colts, might have healed properly on its own with no surgery necessary. But the team and Gronkowski, perhaps looking to hasten his return to the field, decided upon surgery to use an implement in hopes he would be ready for the playoffs.
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Gronkowski broke the same arm in a different place upon his return in January, resulting in another surgery. A recurring infection required additional procedures.
One source with knowledge of the initial forearm surgery told WEEI.com Thursday night that there is “serious concern” about the integrity of the bone where the implement was placed and about the surrounding nerves. The source indicated that if the bone had healed on its own without an implement, there might have been no infection. However, there now are concerns that an abscess developed, causing infection and likely weakening the bone. This prompted three more surgeries in the offseason on the forearm, separate from the procedure on Gronkowski’s back.
Gronkowski’s family and representatives were made aware of the issues in the arm and advised the tight end to hold off on returning to action until it could be determined that the bone in his right arm had fully healed.
It was later agreed that Dr. Andrews would be consulted and would decide on Gronkowski's status, rather than leave the decision to the Patriots, Gronkowski and Dr. Gill.