Aggressive timeline set for Gronkowski return

Aggressive timeline set for Gronkowski return
December 17, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Start the clock. And pass the aspirin.

A timetable for Rob Gronkowski's return from looming ACL surgery has been set even before he's gone under the knife. Sources told The Boston Herald and NFL Network that the brilliant but brittle tight end will be ready for the start of next season.

Gronkowski is set to have surgery in about two weeks, according to the NFL Network report from Albert Breer. The delay before surgery is attributed to the hope Gronk's MCL will heal naturally and the swelling in the knee will subside.

Dr. James Andrews, the famed orthopedist, will do the work on Gronkowski's knee. Andrews also consulted on Gronkowski's forearm recovery after a break, rebreak and two surgeries to clear infections waylaid Gronk for most of last offseason and kept him on the sidelines through the early part of 2013.

Gronkowski's very deliberate return this season after rushing back to the field in 2012 makes one think that -- given the importance of knees to a professional athlete -- the timetable for Gronk being ready for the start of the season is a little aggressive.

Actually, very aggressive. While Wes Welker, Adrian Peterson and scads of other players have hustled back from ACLs to play, Gronk's age, injury history and contract structure behooves him to err on the side of caution and not rush back. His family and advisors are no doubt going to encourage him to approach his return slowly.