Curran: Taking stock of the Gronkowski situation

Curran: Taking stock of the Gronkowski situation
April 8, 2013, 10:30 am
Share This Post
CHEVROLET SPORTSNET CENTRAL

CSNNE.com's Patriots insider Tom E. Curran delivers the need to know on the latest development with Gronk's forearm.

There are too many "if-then" scenarios related to Rob Gronkowski's infected arm to presume he won’t be ready for the start of the 2013 season.
 
Communicating with a source Sunday, the word “premature” was stressed when discussing Gronk’s festering wing.
 
Everything will hinge on whether or not the infection -- which we had previously reported on -- is cleared up by the time the six-week antibiotic cycle ends. The Boston Herald report says that cycle is near completion. On its own, the Herald piece provided a lot of detail to the recovery but gave no reason for pause, no indication the infection wouldn't be cleared up.
 
Mike Reiss’ report on ESPNBoston.com later on Sunday did give pause. Reiss reported that Gronk’s arm had some discharge recently and he rushed back to Boston to get it treated.
 
Gronkowski was on ESPN in late March speaking optimistically about his recovery so we can presume the flare-up occurred after that appearance. And a flare-up that far into the antibiotic cycle would seem to indicate the infection is still raging.
 
If that’s the case, it’s logical to be concerned the infection won’t be fully eradicated by the end of the antibiotic cycle.
 
Then, there are two issues at play. The first is getting the plate surgically removed and replaced and the wound cleaned again. The second is determining if the infection spread and caused damage to adjoining areas.
 
There are aspects to Gronkowski’s recovery similar to Tom Brady’s recovery from his September 2008 knee injury.
 
Both players ended up with infections in the injured areas. There was concern then with Brady -- as there is now with Gronk -- that the infection had compromised the recovery enough to put the start of the season in doubt.
 
In Brady’s case, surgery to fix the infection ultimately wasn’t necessary. And that may still be the case with Gronkowski. But when the player was initially injured is another big difference. Brady was hurt in the season opener. Gronkowski was hurt in the final game of the season.
 
The season begins in five months. But offseason work and minicamp begin in about eight weeks and training camp starts in about 15 weeks.
 
If the infection’s not cleared, then concern about Gronk’s early-season availability is reasonable.
 
In what condition would the Patriots tight end corps be if there were no Gronk? Well, the presence of Jake Ballard, who the Patriots claimed on waivers late last summer, could really mitigate Gronk’s absence.
 
While playing for the Giants, Ballard blew his ACL in the Super Bowl against the Patriots in February 2012. The Giants released Ballard last June in hopes he’d pass through waivers unclaimed and the Giants would re-sign him and put him on their Physically Unable to Perform list.
 
But the Patriots claimed Ballard despite knowing he wouldn’t be of use to them in 2012.
 
The Patriots were pilloried for breaking unwritten NFL rules when they claimed Ballard. Less focus was given to the stupidity of the Giants in trying to save one of 90 roster spots for training camp by waiving Ballard. If the Giants kept Ballard on their roster until after the third preseason game in August, they could have then put Ballard on injured reserve and not exposed him to other teams. They got greedy and lost.
 
Given the situation with Gronkowski, the Patriots’ unwillingness to give the Giants a pass when New York tried to game the system has given New England a viable backup plan if Gronkowski does end up in long-term disrepair.