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Gronk Delays Fourth Surgery, Return Unclear

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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will delay surgery on his injured left forearm to give an infection time to heal. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will delay surgery on his injured left forearm to give an infection time to heal. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images.

A report surfaced Thursday morning that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will delay a fourth surgery to his injured left arm to let an infection heal before doctors operate, sources told the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian.

The infection was discovered shortly after Gronkowski suffered the second broken arm in the playoffs. His arm has been operated on three times now.

Gronk originally broke his forearm on Sunday, Nov. 18, in the final seconds of a Patriots 59-24 win over the Colts in Foxboro. The thing that really got under the skin of fans in New England was that the injury occurred on an extra point attempt after the Patriots' final touchdown. He missed the next five regular season games, only to make a comeback againt Miami in the regular season finale.

The Patriots received a first-round bye in the playoffs and played host to the Texans in the divisional round. That's when Gronk suffered another broken arm -- same arm, different spot -- that effectively ended his season.

The thought of an unhealthy Gronkowski surely doesn't sit well with the Patriots' organization. Since being drafted in the second round in 2010, the 6-foot-6 tight end has hauled in 38 touchdown receptions (and one rushing) in an incomplete three seasons. He has been one of the most valuable receivers ever through the first three years of his career. The question everyone wants to know is: how will these injuries change his effectiveness this season?

The short answer is (hopefully) not much. The timetable set for Gronkowski's recovery is about 10 weeks -- a rough estimate. According to Guregian, this next surgery Gronk will undergo is to remove a plate in his forearm. He is currently on antibiotics to aid the clearing of the infection. So, depending on how long it takes the infection to heal and when Gronkowski's fourth surgery takes place, the tight end could miss time at the beginning of the regular season. It's obviously less than ideal, but the Patriots won't take any chances bringing him back too early. And now, with the slew of wide receivers the Patriots will have on their roster entering training camp, there will be more options for Tom Brady to go to through the air.

But there's no denying that the Patriots' offense is significantly better with No. 87 on the field. Especially in the red zone.