When Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm Nov. 18, the timetable for his return was set at four to six weeks.
Sunday’s game with the 49ers will make it exactly four weeks since the injury, and as Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe reports, Gronkowski is expected to try to practice this week.
according to a league source, Rob Gronkowski is expected to try to practice this week. Gronkowski underwent surgery on his broken arm Nov 19—
shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) December 12, 2012
Practicing is obviously less strenuous than game action, so Gronkowski could just be trying to get his sea legs under him before returning. He can probably do various practice duties without full use of his forearm. But considering Gronkowski has battled through other injuries to help out when the Patriots needed him most, like in last year’s Super Bowl, an early return isn’t out of the question.
The release of Visanthe Shiancoe on Monday also added to speculation that Gronkowski’s return could be coming soon.
Gronkowski was hurt on an extra-point attempt as the Patriots beat the Colts 59-24 in Week 11, but New England has hardly stumbled without him. Aaron Hernandez, Julian Edelman and Brandon Lloyd have all had big games with Gronkowski out, and the Patriots have won by a combined score of 114-49 over those three games.