Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski appears to be making strides toward returning from back surgery. But just how soon he’ll return to the field remains to be seen.
Gronkowski has resumed some light workouts, and Ed Werder of ESPN reported that people who have been working with Gronkowski describe him as being in good spirits, looking good and making significant progress.
That does not mean, however, that Gronkowski will progress well enough to play when the Patriots open the season on September 8. It’s simply too soon to say whether Gronkowski can play in Week One, and Gronkowski’s history has to be a concern: His previous back surgery, in September of 2009 when he was in college at Arizona, cost him his entire senior season.
The interesting phrase in this report is "light workouts" which means that Gronkowski is up and moving around and perhaps doing some physical activity. His recovery could go right up to Week 1, and the Patriots aren't going to be forthcoming with any updates. There were rumors that he might start the season on PUP (missing the first six games), but the prevailing notion seems to be that he'll miss a couple games at most. The bottom line is that Gronk provides outstanding production when he plays, but his health is a major question mark right now. Back injuries are tricky. Fantasy owners willing to risk a 3rd round pick on Gronk should try to grab someone like Jordan Cameron or Rob Housler (or one of the many vets available) in the later rounds to fill in for Gronk early in the season. At this point, we might use a 4th round pick on Gronkowski, who holds 2nd round value if healthy. Fantasy owners who pull the trigger early in drafts are doing so in the dark. It's a risky move that could pay big dividends down the line.