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Source: ‘Serious concern’ over Tom Gill surgery on Rob Gronkowski

10.10.13 at 11:01 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski may or may not play this weekend against the Saints. But the Patriots had expected him to play much sooner, a league source told WEEI.com.

The Patriots thought the Pro Bowl tight end would make his debut as soon as Week 3 against Tampa Bay.

However, Gronkowski did not make his debut on Sept. 22, and has yet to step on the field for his first snap of game action. The reason: concern over the stability of his surgically repaired left forearm after a procedure performed by Patriots doctor Tom Gill.

While it is common practice for team doctors to perform on their own athletes, the Gronkowski family became concerned after there were repeated surgeries to treat infections in the area of an implement, or device, that was placed in the forearm to expedite the healing process.

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.

Gronkowski returned in the 2012 season finale and caught a touchdown pass, but he re-injured the arm two weeks later in a win over the Texans and was unavailable against the Ravens in the AFC championship.

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 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 his 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.

All of this led to the decision this week to bring in noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews to sign off on whether Gronkowski is indeed ready to play, taking the decision out of the hands of the Patriots, Gronkowski and Dr. Gill.

The Patriots were hopeful that Gronkowski’s participation in practice in the early part of the season would lead to his return. Gronkowski has officially been listed as limited in all practices this season with the team.

On Thursday, Gronkowski told reporters that “nothing’s changed” in regard to his playing status for Sunday, adding that he’s just going to take it day to day.

Read More: Gordon Gronkowski, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl

Report: Tony Corrente will work as referee for Patriots-Saints

10.10.13 at 8:58 pm ET
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Tony Corrente will work as the referee for Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Saints at Gillette Stadium, according to our pals at Football Zebras.

Corrente, who has worked as a referee in the NFL since 2000, is one of the more respected officials in the game, and is best know amongst his peers for having worked as the lead official in Super Bowl XLI. (On the flip side, he was fined last season for accidentally uttering an obscenity at another official while his mic was on. He was docked a game check.)

Since 2009, he’s worked one New England game per season — all of them wins for the Patriots. That includes a 17-10 win over the Bills in 2009, a 23-20 victory over the Chargers in 2010, a 31-19 triumph against the Raiders in 2011 and New England’s 41-28 divisional playoff win over the Texans this past January at Gillette Stadium.

For more on Corrente’s record as an official, check out his page at Pro Football Reference.

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Patriots injury report Thursday: Tommy Kelly, Leon Washington absent again

10.10.13 at 4:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tommy Kelly and Leon Washington were again the only two injury-related absentees at practice on Thursday while Jamie Collins was not in attendance due to a non-injury issue. Rob Gronkowski, Stevan Ridley, Rob Ninkovich and Danny Amendola were again among 11 Patriots listed as limited at the sweats and shells workout in Foxboro as the team continued preparations for the Saints Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Ridley missed all three practices last week with a knee injury, which kept him out of Sunday’s game against Cincinnati, the first game he’s missed due to injury in his three year career.

Center Ryan Wendell is still dealing with a concussion from Sunday’s game in Cincinnati while Ninkovich is suffering from a groin ailment. Michael Buchanan missed Wednesday’s practice due to a non-injury matter and was back at full participation on Thursday.

Matthew Slater practiced for the third time in five days after returning last Friday. He was again limited with a wrist injury that forced him to miss the Bengals game. Slater has missed four games since injuring the wrist in Week 1.

Running back Shane Vereen and defensive lineman Armond Armstead were both spotted working out on the side but both are on reserve lists. Vereen, who had a brace on his right wrist, is on injured reserve with a designation to return while Armstead is on non-football illness list

Here is Thursday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
DT Tommy Kelly (knee)
RB Leon Washington (ankle)
LB Jamie Collins (not injury related)

Limited Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
WR Aaron Dobson (neck)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm)
LB Dont’a Hightower (knee)
LB Jerod Mayo (ankle)
DL Rob Ninkovich (groin)
RB Stevan Ridley (knee)
ST Matthew Slater (wrist)
C Ryan Wendell (concussion)
DB Tavon Wilson (hamstring)

Full Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
DB Nate Ebner (ankle)

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Jamie Collins, Leon Washington, New England Patriots, new orleans saints

Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview Patriots-Saints

10.10.13 at 3:39 pm ET
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Read More: Chris Price, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, new orleans saints

Rob Gronkowski says ‘nothing’s changed’ about his availability to the Patriots

10.10.13 at 1:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The question was short and to the point to open a two-minute availability with Rob Gronkowski Thursday: Any chance of you playing Sunday against the Saints?

“It’s basically nothing new,” Gronkowski began. “Just working hard every week, working hard out at practice and nothing’s changed. We’re day-by-day like we’ve been from the very beginning. It’s all about the New England Patriots versus the New Orleans Saints this weekend. It’s going to be exciting. They’ve got a good team.

“I’m improving every single week and just working hard.”

Does Gronkowski sense the team – and specifically the offense – needs him desperately back on the field?

“I’m just doing whatever the coach asks me to do,” Gronkowski said. “I’m out on the practice field, doing what my teammates ask me to do and just help out the team to my max ability.”

Does he feel he can play?

“I’m just working every day, improving every day to my max and taking it day-by-day,” he added, before being asked what it will be like to finally get back on the field in a game. “It’s going to be a great feeling, obviously. Just been working hard towards that goal, working hard every day to achieve that. It’s going to be exciting when it happens. It’s going to be awesome.”

What is he looking for to get over the hump?

“Really just taking each at a time and just trying to improve every day at a time and that’s all,” Gronkowski said. “I’m improving every week. Obviously, when I started at the beginning, conditioning was pretty rough but that’s what practice is for and working hard is for. Just improving every week, taking it day-by-day and we’ll be super excited when I get out there.”

The session with Gronk ended when a reporter asked if this the best he has felt since having offseason surgeries on his forearm and back.

“I’ve got to go work out so I’ll probably feel better after that,” Gronkowski said with a laugh.

Read More: Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl, Rob Gronkowski

Patriots practice Thursday: Tommy Kelly, Leon Washington and Jamie Collins missing

10.10.13 at 10:47 am ET
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FOXBORO — Tommy Kelly and Leon Washington missed their second straight practice on Thursday while defensive end Michael Buchanan returned as the Patriots worked out in sweats and shells on the upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium. Linebacker Jamie Collins, who was not on Wednesday’s injury report, was not present either for the start of practice.

Kelly left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter holding his right knee and limped off the field. Washington suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Devin McCourty in the kick return game.

Also of note, running back Shane Vereen and defensive lineman Armond Armstead made an appearance on a separate practice field and were spotted working out in sweats. Vereen had a brace on his right wrist, the wrist that was broken in Week 1 in Buffalo. Armstead, who spent the first five weeks on the non-football illness list, has been recovering from an infection that required surgery in the summer.

The team is continuing on-field preparations for the Saints this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

On Wednesday, in an effort to add depth along the defensive line, which is already without Vince Wilfork for the rest of the season, the team signed former Panthers defensive tackle Andre Neblett on Wednesday.

Read More: Armond Armstead, Jamie Collins, Leon Washington, New England Patriots

Sean Payton says Bill Belichick is ‘someone certainly I look up to’

10.09.13 at 9:07 pm ET
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From the moment he took over the Saints as head coach in 2006, Sean Payton has always paid close attention to Bill Belichick. So when he was reminded Wednesday that Belichick paid him a big compliment for the way he calls plays for the Saints, Payton returned the favor.

‘€œWe are in different conferences and yet he has been someone that I first got to know at the Pro Bowl in 2006 when we both coached teams there,” Payton said. “He has been someone certainly that I look up to. We’€™ve shared the opportunity to work for a Hall of Fame head coach and so there are probably some things that are similar and yet a lot of things that would be different.

“When you are young in this league, Bill talked about this all the time, when he had guys like (Tom) Landry, (Joe) Gibbs and (Chuck) Noll, older coaches that not necessarily took him under their wing, but that he could visit with periodically. We’€™ve had a chance to scrimmage in practice with New England and that opportunity for me to just spend some time with Bill has been always helpful and a positive experience.’€

Belichick was effusive in his praise for Payton and the way he calls plays before their Monday night meeting in 2009. The Saints came out and blew away the Patriots, 38-17, in front of a national TV audience.

Of course, in 2009, Payton joined Belichick in the select group of Super Bowl-winning coaches. Payton was asked if he considers his Saints in the same class at the Patriots in terms of giving their fans a consistent winner. Under Payton, the Saints are 67-34. That does not include the 7-9 season of 2012, when he was suspended for the full season for his involvement in the “Bounty Gate” scandal. Payton’s winning percentage, including playoffs, is .660. That ranks him fifth among all coaches, with Belichick topping the list at .756 with a 167-54 mark.

‘€œWe just haven’€™t had the same amount of years,” Payton said. “These guys are now through 10 years and so that would be a goal to win the championships and win as many championship games as they had. You aspire to do that. You aspire to put yourselves in a position to play in the important games, but there are a lot of postseason wins and regular season wins we are behind.’€

So how did Payton become so successful calling offensive plays?

‘€œI think it just varies with your players,” he said. “You try to just put them in the best position you can. I have been on teams where the personnel has been different and obviously then what you are trying to do is different. I think each week we try to look at each game and figure out the best way we feel it is possible to do that, it kind of stems from that.’€

Something else Payton learned from Belichick is to always prepare as if a player like Rob Gronkowski will play, even though he’s missed the first five games of the season. On Wednesday, Payton showed he’s learned well from Belichick.

‘€œI think you go through the process as if he is playing,” Payton said of Gronkowski. “You discuss jersey numbers and when you are running practice plays you try to prepare for what you have seen when he played and not be surprised if he is up. And also understand that if he is not each week we are faced with that now and the other team is as well. Sometimes if it is an interior lineman, certain positions aren’€™t as maybe as noticeable where you are trying to match up certain personnel, but with a player like him it is pretty significant.’€

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Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, new orleans saints, nfl

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