If the New England Patriots want to lock up a No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, they'll likely have to do so without their best receiving threat. According to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, Gronkowski suffered a ruptured disk in his back against the Seahawks in Week 10 and will undergo surgery to repair it. He's expected to be out eight weeks.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed the report, adding that the surgery will take place on Friday.
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If Gronkowski were to return in eight weeks, it would put him back for the Super Bowl, assuming the Patriots make it that far. ESPN's Adam Schefter says there's no timetable for his return, so it's possible his 2016 season could be done altogether.
This will be the third back surgery for Gronkowski in his career, which is a concerning trend. Furthermore, he's already missed three games this season and played a handful of snaps in another game.
In the eight games he has played, Gronkowski has caught 25 passes for 540 yards and three touchdowns. He's averaging a league-high 21.6 yards per reception.
In his career, Gronkowski has missed 21 games due to injury. The Patriots are 15-6 in those games, including 3-0 this season.