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Former Patriots doctor Thomas Gill: Some concern Rob Gronkowski’s career could be over

12.02.16 at 10:31 am ET
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Former Patriots team doctor Thomas Gill has some concerns with Rob Gronkowski. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Former Patriots team doctor Thomas Gill has some concerns with Rob Gronkowski. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Although not currently with the team, Dr. Thomas Gill does know Rob Gronkowski well, as he served as Patriots team doctor until after the 2013 season.

Speaking to WBZ on Thursday, Gill said there’s a chance Gronkowski’s career could be over because in all the time he worked in the NFL, he never saw anyone play after three disk surgeries on the same level.

“Yeah, not good,” Gill said. “There is a saying we had when we were evaluating players at the combine, once a disk always a disk, because even when it’s fixed, especially with an offensive linemen — we always downgrade offensive linemen when they have had a disk surgery because we know this is going to happen again.

“Now that this is the third time that it’s happened, again, if it is the same level, as tough of a guy that he is — I’m not aware, certainly in my 16 years in the league of a player still in the league who had three disks on one level.”

It is worth noting there is some history with Gronkowski and Gill, as he performed a surgery on Gronkowski’s forearm in 2012, which drew some attention and concern from the family.

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Patriots, Rob Gronkowski family release joint statement saying TE not expected to play again in 2016 season

12.01.16 at 9:23 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski left Sunday's game in the second quarter with a back injury and will need surgery. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Rob Gronkowski left Sunday’s game in the second quarter with a back injury and will need surgery. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Similar to what happened last year when Rob Gronkowski injured his knee against the Broncos, the Gronkowski family and the Patriots put out a joint statement Thursday night after it was reported the tight end will need back surgery and will miss about eight weeks.

The statement confirmed the tight end will have surgery and he’s expected to miss the rest of the season, but won’t know for sure until surgery on Friday.

Here is the statement:

During the Seattle game on November 13, Rob sustained a hit to the chest that resulted in a pulmonary contusion to his lung. Rob was examined by several specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital as directed by the team, as well as an independent physician. He received medical clearance to return to play two weeks later for the New York Jets game on November 27. After a hit early in the Jets game, Rob began to experience significant back and leg pain. This injury forced him to leave the game and he did not return. With the help of the Patriots medical staff, along with the consultation of several medical experts, it has been determined that it is in Rob’s best long-term interest to undergo surgery to address his lower back injury. Rob is expected to have surgery tomorrow. We do not expect that he will be able to play for the remainder of the 2016 season, but will await the results of tomorrow’s surgery before making a final determination. Rob has always been one of our hardest workers and was voted captain for the leadership he provides on our team. We are deeply saddened any time a player is lost to injury. We are committed to assisting Rob throughout his recovery and look forward to his return to playing football for the New England Patriots.

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Tom Brady on injured knee: ‘I’ll be feeling a lot better out there than last week’

12.01.16 at 8:50 pm ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

On Monday, Tom Brady said his injured knee wouldn’t be a long-term issue and it appears that is still the case.

On Westwood One prior to Thursday Night Football, Brady said his knee is doing much better and he’s looking forward to Sunday’s game against the Rams.

“It’s doing a lot better,” Brady said. “I told you on Monday night I am a fast healer. I’m feeling so much better today. I am excited about this weekend and going out there and playing against a great Rams defense. I’ll be feeling a lot better out there than last week, but that’s part of football season, too — dealing with the bumps and bruises and once again fighting through whatever adversity you face over the course of the week.

“Nobody makes excuses and certainly nobody feels sorry for the Patriots. We still have to go out there and try and do our best and play a great game.”

Brady missed practice on Wednesday, but returned on Thursday and was limited.

Even with a banged up knee, Brady led the Patriots to a comeback win over the Jets last week, as he went 30-for-50 with 286 yards and two touchdowns.

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Tom Brady: Not having Rob Gronkowski ‘makes things challenging’ for Patriots offense

12.01.16 at 8:39 pm ET
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Tom Brady and the Patriots offense will certainly miss Rob Gronkowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady and the Patriots offense will certainly miss Rob Gronkowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots finally got their full complement of skill players playing together Sunday against the Jets, but that only lasted roughly a quarter as Rob Gronkowski left with a back injury.

Then, on Thursday it was reported the tight end will need back surgery and is going to be out about eight weeks.

Appearing on Westwood One’s pregame show for Thursday Night Football, Tom Brady said it will be challenging without Gronkowski, but part of the NFL is overcoming adversity.

“You know, it doesn’t help losing great players,” Brady said. “To not have Gronk out there as one of our best players and most dependable, consistent players, not in the lineup makes things challenging for us, but that is what the NFL season is about. It’s about overcoming challenges. We have a lot of good players on our team that are going to need to fill the void and that is a big void left by a spectacular player in Gronk. I don’t think any of us are going to give up what we’re trying to accomplish.

“He’s such a mentally tough person. He’s physically tough. He has a great energy and spirit about him. We’re all wishing him the very best. Nobody wants Gronk not out there. Everybody wants Gronk out there every play of every game. That’s not a reality. We still have a job to do and we’re going to try and go out and do it as well as we possibly can.”

Brady said he’s spoken to Gronkowski a few times over the last couple days and said the tight end will work as hard as he can to get back as soon as possible.

“Everyone is thinking about him and what he’s gone through,” Brady said. “It’s such a physical sport. It’s hard to see people that you care about go through injuries and he’s gone through his fair share. I also know the resolve that he has and that will never change with him. He will be as determined as ever to get back and get better as soon as possible.”

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Martellus Bennett on Rob Gronkowski injury: ‘Cutting my grass before I cut someone else’s’

12.01.16 at 5:59 pm ET
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Martellus Bennett is excited to show off his cleats this Sunday. (

Martellus Bennett is excited to show off his cleats this Sunday. (

FOXBORO — Injuries are not a popular discussion in the Patriots locker room, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given who their coach is.

Before the Rob Gronkowski news this afternoon, Martellus Bennett was asked of Gronkowski’s status.

“Only thing I can control is what’s going on with my body. Cutting my grass before I cut someone else’s.” he said.

Asked to expand on his grass analogy, Bennett went way back in time.

“I don’t cut my grass, but I grew up cutting the grass all the time,” he said. “Now I’m fortunate enough — I pay to cut my grass, but then my grass only needs to be cut half the year because it’s cold in Chicago at home. Plus, they do a way better job than I did. I used to have a lawn-mowing company when I was a kid.

“But I just use that analogy because a lot of people tend to other people’s garden and never worry about the weeds in their own garden. Therefore your garden gets overflowed with weeds and your flowers die. But someone else’s flowers look great because you’re all in their business, in their soil, in their mulch, in their sh — cow manure.”

The NFL is permitting each player to wear cleats of their choice this week for its “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign. Bennett will be supporting his Uncle Smarty Foundation, but hasn’t revealed what they will look like.

“I think there’s a ton of guys doing a lot of great things in the NFL,” Bennett said. “Whether it’s Brandon Marshall with his stigma of mental health awareness or my brother [Seattle’s Michael Bennett] with obesity and getting kids to eat right. You’ve got guys [Chris Long] dealing with water issues. You’ve got guys doing all kinds of great stuff and always giving back, and they never really get the chance to highlight those things.

“There’s a lot of negative stuff in the media because negativity sells. Controversy sells. But at the same time, it would be good to get a chance for the NFL to let these guys highlight what their causes are and what they’re doing. One week is cool, but the NFL, they give themselves a month. They’ve got breast cancer awareness, and I think they only donate, like, one percent of the proceeds that they make. Most of these guys are donating well over 50, 60 percent of their proceeds back to their charitable causes.”

Added Bennett: “I’m always trying to take advantage of the NFL. They’ve been taking advantage of me for nine years now.”

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Tom Brady (knee), Julian Edelman (foot) among 6 Patriots limited

12.01.16 at 4:50 pm ET
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Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

FOXBORO — The Patriots got some good news at practice on Thursday as a few of their players who missed Wednesdays session returned.

Tom Brady (knee), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Julian Edelman (foot) all returned and were limited in the session.

There were two additions to the injury report as Trey Flowers was limited with a shin injury, while Woodrow Hamilton missed the practice with an illness.

For the second straight day, Nate Ebner was present, but didn’t practice with a concussion and Jordan Richards was out with a knee injury.

Missing two straight practices is not a good sign for their availability for Sunday. The Patriots special teams could need some reinforcements.

Here is the complete injury report.


TE Rob Gronkowski (back)
ST Nate Ebner (concussion)
S Jordan Richards (knee)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shin)


TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
QB Tom Brady (knee)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
WR Chris Hogan (back)
ST/WR Matthew Slater (foot)
DL Trey Flowers (shin)

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Tom Brady, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman return to Patriots practice

12.01.16 at 2:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Want some good news from Gillette Stadium on Thursday?

A few key members of the Patriots returned to the practice field after missing Wednesdays practice.

Tom Brady (knee), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Julian Edelman (foot/birth of child) were spotted at Patriots practice on Thursday, which was held in shells, not full pads like they have been on past Thursdays, on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium.

There were four players missing, though: Trey Flowers, Jordan Richards, Rob Gronkowski and Woodrow Hamilton. Also, practice squad tight end Kennard Backman was not spotted as well.

(Gronkowski of course, reportedly needs back surgery.)

Nate Ebner, who didn’t practice with a concussion on Wednesday, was out on the field, but he was also spotted Wednesday, so it’s unclear if he will participate in the session.

The injury report will come out later in the day.

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