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Rob Gronkowski calls off Las Vegas trip

05.20.13 at 12:48 am ET
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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was set to go to Las Vegas as part of a promotional excursion involving a jet-sharing service, will apparently not be making the trip. The company that was putting the whole shindig together involving Gronkowski has decided to call off the event.

“Relaxing” could very well be code for “preparing for another surgery,” as reports indicate that the big tight end will be going under the knife for another arm surgery this week. In addition, it’s expected that he’ll be facing back surgery in the coming weeks as well.

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Five thoughts on past, present and future of Rob Gronkowski

05.17.13 at 11:07 pm ET
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In the wake of the news that Rob Gronkowski could be going under the knife for a back issue — in addition to his monthly series of offseason surgeries on his left forearm — here are five thoughts about what that means for him and the team, and what sort of future he might have in the NFL.

1. Back in late February, I talked with noted sports injury expert Will Carroll about the Patriots, and specifically Gronkowski’€™s health situation. It’€™s important to remember this was at the start of the offseason — before the multiple offseason arm surgeries and reported need for back surgery. (Back to a simpler time, when it was just his forearm, ankle and a disk problem in his back that were an issue.) But what he said was really interesting. He talked about how this was just part of who Gronkowski is. (Click here to listen to the entire podcast.)

‘€œI don’€™t think at some point when you take a look at players, the injury-prone tag is thrown out a little too easily. But with a player like Gronkowski who has had multiple problems … 20 years from now, we’€™re probably going to take a little swab of their cheek at the combine and say, ‘€˜Huh, well, looks like he just can’€™t handle this. He’€™s going to end up with these kinds of injuries. We don’€™t have that now — we have to do it in retrospect. To me, when we see these multiple system failures, it is something that [Dr. James Andrews] calls a ‘€˜tissue issue.’€™ There’€™s probably some genetic issue to it. Some things can hold up better than others. Certainly, he’€™s talented. Certainly, he’€™s really, really talented. But I do think he’€™s going to have to deal with these injuries throughout his career. And I don’€™t think it’€™s going to be a very long one. He could have seven, eight really, good, productive years that will really help the Patriots. But they’€™re going to have to deal with these sorts of injuries all along that time frame.’€

How much of that is in how he plays?

‘€œI think that’€™s part of it. Maybe he could adjust. I don’€™t think he adjusts much about his life. And that’€™s OK. He’€™s very good at what he does, especially with Aaron Hernandez there. They make a very good pair, and Tom Brady knows how to use the two of them and they fit very well into that offense. I’€™m not sure he needs to. I’€™m not even sure it would make that much difference. None of these things are him wearing down. None of these things are fatigued-based injuries. These are just … some of them are football injuries, and some of them are … I just don’€™t think his body holds up as well as some others. And again, that’€™s no fault of his own. I suppose we could take a look at his parents a little bit. But there’€™s not much you can do with that. You have to take him for who he is, both on and off the field.’€

2. Gronkowski has been dogged by injury questions all he way back to college, where he had real back problems that caused him to sit out a season while at Arizona, and that was a big reason the Patriots were able to find him in the second round in 2010. It’€™s absolutely absurd in retrospect, but he went 42nd overall — selected after guys like Tim Tebow, Dez Bryant and Jermaine Gresham — because in large part because teams were scared away by a terrifying injury history.

However, It’€™s important to remember that this issue is reportedly different than the problem he suffered in college. That was a spine issue (there was one report that he suffered from spinal stenosis, one that was roundly rejected by his agent Drew Rosenhaus), while this is a disk issue. When you talk to people around the league, there’€™s a distinct good news/bad news element to this: it’€™s good because it’€™s a sign that the spinal issue is not recurring, but it’€™s bad that it’€™s another area of the back he has to worry about going forward.

(In the wake of Friday’€™s news, it’€™s also worth mentioning that he’€™s becoming a walking ad for WebMD. In the last five years, it’€™s been two different back issues, multiple breaks of the left forearm and an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness in Super Bowl XLVI.)

3. The number of surgeries and injuries isn’€™t a knock on Gronkowski’€™s durability. Frankly, I’€™m not sure anybody, even someone his size, is equipped to play a minimum of 16 games a year while taking that level of punishment. (Of course, the off-field lifestyle doesn’€™t exactly help out, but that’€™s a column for another day.) To watch him after a game late in the season is to witness a 6-foot-6, 265-pound bruise. He takes terrific physical punishment. And it’€™s important to remember that pass catching is only one-half of his game: Gronkowski is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league — last season, Pro Football Focus graded him as the fourth-best run-blocking tight end in the NFL — and the level of punishment he endures while helping Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder hold back the likes of Cameron Wake and Von Miller also takes its toll.
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Reports: Back surgery for Rob Gronkowski?

05.17.13 at 4:09 pm ET
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In an offseason filled with medical uncertainty for Rob Gronkowski, there is now news that the Patriots tight end recently underwent an MRI on his back to check on a disc issue he had dating back to last season, according to USA Today.

Gronkowski, who has reportedly had at least three surgeries on a broken left forearm — and could have two more before the start of training camp — had an MRI on his back on Thursday, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, and will now get a second opinion from back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins. According to Breer, at this point, surgery looks likely

One of the reasons the Patriots were able to get Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 draft was because of his spotty injury history. The Arizona product had a serious back issue as a collegian — he missed the entire 2009 season with an spinal issue. As a result, he couldn’t perform at the combine, which likely hindered his draft status.

The back is just one small part of Gronkowski’s injury-dominated offseason. The 24-year-old suffered a broken forearm in a Week 11 win over the Colts, and later re-broke his arm in the postseason against the Texans. He will reportedly undergo a fourth surgery on the forearm next week to clear up an infection issue. If the infection hasn’€™t yet cleared, the NFL Network is reporting that a fifth surgery would almost certainly be needed, which would throw the start of Gronkowski’€™s season into serious doubt.

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‘It Is What It Is’ podcast: Chris Price, Mike Giardi talk Patriots offseason

05.17.13 at 11:51 am ET
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In the latest edition of the “It Is What It Is” podcast, WEEI’s Chris Price and CSNNE’s Mike Giardi take a look at the Patriots offseason on both sides of the ball, try and get a handle on which new guys will make an impact first, and whether or not the Patriots have altered their style when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers. Listen or download here.

Pats officially announce signing of Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais

05.17.13 at 11:44 am ET
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The Patriots announced Friday morning they have signed second-round pick Jamie Collins and seventh-round pick Steve Beauharnais.

Collins and Beauharnais join Logan Ryan (third round, 83rd overall) and Duron Harmon (third round, 91st overall) and as four of the seven picks selections to sign with the team.

Collins, 23, was selected by the Patriots in the second round of the draft with the 52nd selection overall out of Southern Mississippi. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder, began his college career as a safety before moving to linebacker as a sophomore in 2010. He appeared in 52 games with 34 starts and registered 314 total tackles, 21 sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions with two returned for touchdowns. Last season he led the team with 92 total tackles and 10 sacks.

The 23-year-old Beauharnais — who agreed to a deal on Thursday — was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (235th overall out of Rutgers). It was the second of two seventh round picks by the Patriots in 2013. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, was a three-year starter at linebacker. Last season, he started all 13 games at middle linebacker and finished with 83 total tackles. He was named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award following his senior season.

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Report: Gronk set for another surgery next week

05.16.13 at 10:43 pm ET
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Another month, another forearm surgery for Rob Gronkowski.

According to multiple reports, Gronkowski will undergo his fourth surgery on his left forearm next week. Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that Dr. Jesse Jupiter is set to perform the operation next week at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

In this case, the looming surgery was anticipated because of an infection. According to ESPN, assuming the infection has cleared, next week’s procedure would replace the plate in the forearm, and from that point, the recovery time would be 10 weeks, which would be approximately the start of training camp in July. If the infection hasn’t yet cleared, the NFL Network is reporting that a fifth surgery would almost certainly be needed, which would throw the start of Gronkowski’s season into serious doubt.

Gronkowski suffered the initial break in a Week 11 win over the Colts, and later re-broke his arm in the postseason against the Texans. The 23-year-old caught 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Patriots in 2012.

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Report: Arrest warrant issued for former Patriots receiver

05.16.13 at 5:40 pm ET
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A warrant has been issued in Florida for the arrest of former Patriots wide receiver Chad Johnson, according to TMZ.

Johnson reportedly failed to report to his probation officer, which violated the terms of his probation. Johnson, formerly known as Chad Ochocinco, was on probation following his domestic violence conviction against his ex-wife Evelyn Lozada last summer. If a judge determines that he did violate the terms of his probation, Johnson could face jail time.

In his one season with the Patriots, the 35-year-old had 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown.

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