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Rob Gronkowski needs a fourth, and hopefully last, arm surgery

Rob Gronkowski

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski warms up before an AFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


When we last checked in on the twice-broken arm of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, the outlook was reasonably good, as Gronkowski hadn’t had any unforeseen setbacks. But there is one outstanding question that could be a reason for concern.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports that Gronkowski is going to need a fourth operation to replace the plate that secures the broken bone in his forearm. That fourth surgery has long been expected and isn’t considered a major problem. If everything involved in the fourth surgical procedure goes well, Gronkowski will still be on track to play in Week One.

The real question, however, is whether the fourth procedure finds that Gronkowski has infected tissue in his forearm. If he does have an infection, he would then need a fifth operation. At that point, his availability for the regular season could be in question. So Gronkowski and the Patriots are hoping the fourth surgery is the last.

The 23-year-old Gronkowski broke his arm in Week 11 of last season and then missed Weeks 12-16. He re-broke the arm in the playoffs, and the status of his arm has been a much-discussed topic in New England since.