Rob Gronkowski still not cleared for return to Patriots


Six weeks into the regular season and nearly five months removed from his latest forearm surgery, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski still is not cleared to return to the field.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Dr. James Andrews still has not cleared Gronkowski to play yet, because of issues with Gronkowski's forearm, and that needs to happen before he can play. Gronkowski's surgically repaired back is not the issue anymore. It's not a sure thing that he will play this week against the New Orleans Saints, despite some building optimism about his status. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk first reported the news.

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The news comes on the heels of a WEEI-FM report raising concerns about how Gronkowski's arm surgeries were handled by the organization.

That report dovetails with what Rapoport reported two weeks ago, when he noted that Gronkowski's slower-than-expected return from injury was related to concerns Gronkowski's father had about the situation. NFL Media's Albert Breer asked Bill Belichick about the issue Friday.

"As it relates to our medical people, we have confidence in all of them. And they do a good job," Belichick said.

No matter how it plays out from here, Gronkowski's multiple surgeries and protracted time on the sideline has turned into a messy situation for New England. It also has been costly; no player outside of Tom Brady is more valuable to the team.

UPDATE: NFL Media's Albert Breer confirmed Saturday that Gronkowski has not gained clearance and is not likely to play against the Saints on Sunday, according to a source informed of the situation.

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