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

10.10.13 at 11:01 pm ET

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

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. 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 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



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