By Marc Weinreich
September 17, 2013
Rob Gronkowski is '50-50' for the Pats game on Sunday vs. the Bucs. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Tom Brady said he's looking forward to the return of Rob Gronkowski, who's '50-50' for the Pats' game on Sunday vs. the Bucs. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is "50-50" for Sunday's game against the Tampa Buccaneers, according to a report Tuesday from Ed Werder of ESPN.

The timing of Gronkowski's possible return is on schedule with previous reports, which had indicated he might possibly play against Tampa Bay in Week 3 and "will be playing" when the Pats travel to Atlanta for a matchup with the Falcons, according to a report last week from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. The 24-year-old two-time Pro Bowler had offseason surgery on his left forearm, which he broke in Week 11 last season, and on his back. He missed all of the preseason and is rehabbing his way into game-ready shape.

In his absence, the Patriots are 2-0, but both victories have been hard-fought. Tom Brady helped lead the team to a 13-10 victory in a rainy game against rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the New York Jets on Sept. 12. Against the Jets, Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes and the offense ended up with more punts (11) than first downs (9). Days earlier, the Pats narrowly escaped with a 23-21 victory over rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills.

New England has featured three rookie wideouts and an undrafted rookie tight end, and Brady has said repeatedly that he is looking forward to the return of Gronkowski, who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2011 and caught 11 TDs last season.

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