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.
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.
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.