[UPDATE]: The New England Patriots have placed tight end Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve while officially ending his season, according to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates and Adam Schefter:
According to multiple reports from Thursday afternoon, the New England Patriots will be forced to finish out what is left of the 2016-2017 regular season without the services of their top offensive weapon in Rob Gronkowski. The veteran tight end reportedly suffered a ruptured disk in his back during the Patriots’ November 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and will now undergo a procedure to repair the damage.
Initial reports are indicating that Gronkowski will miss at least the next eight weeks as a result of the surgery.
The 27-year-old tight end is currently in the midst of his seventh NFL season, all of which have been spent in New England. Despite serving as a perennial Pro Bowler and All-Pro selection, “Gronk” continues to be limited by injuries as he has appeared in all 16 regular season games just twice thus far.
With those campaigns notably coming back in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, his first two seasons in the league, Gronkowski has since appeared in 11, seven, 15, 15 and eight regular season games, respectively. While it appears that his 2016-2017 campaign will be cut in half due to a slew of injuries highlighted by the recent back trouble, he will presumably finish the year with a mere 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns.
It is also worth noting that the Patriots have targeted Gronkowski just 38 times this season, which is by far a new single-season career-low. He has also managed to set new career-worst marks in all of the aforementioned statistical categories as well.
Nonetheless, the Patriots remain atop the AFC East divisional standings behind a stellar 9-2 record. Despite the absence of Gronkowski in addition to quarterback Tom Brady, it appears that New England will be heading to the postseason once again – albeit short-handed this time around.