FOXBOROUGH — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent surgery Monday morning to repair the broken left forearm he suffered in Sunday’s game against the Colts.
A league source confirmed the surgery, though a timetable for Gronkowski’s return is still a bit uncertain. However, the injury is not expected to be season-ending.
The work now for the Patriots is in figuring out how best to plan for life without the third-year player, who had seven catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns Sunday before the injury, which appeared to happen on the final point-after try, when former teammate Sergio Brown rushed Gronkowski.
His arm seemed to crumple, and as he walked off the field it hung limp by his side. A short time later team doctor Thomas Gill took Gronkowski into the locker room.
During a mid-afternoon conference call — held a few hours after Gronkowski’s surgery — coach Bill Belichick was asked for an update on the health of the tight end.
“I don’t really have anything,” Belichick said. “I know that our medical people are looking at all the players today when they come in, trying to assess their situation like they always do on Monday. I’ll catch up with them if they’ve had a chance to see them all at the end of the day.”
Asked directly if Gronkowski had undergone surgery, Belichick replied, “As I said, I really haven’t met with our doctors and trainers yet today. I do that at the end of the day. I don’t have any updates.
“Whatever the injury information is, we’ll release it in a timely fashion, when we’re required by the league, just like we always do.”
The Patriots and Jets were required to release injury reports Monday since they play Thursday; since New England did not practice, its report was hypothetical, based on what would have happened if the team had practiced.
Gronkowski was one of three players listed as did not participate, with defensive end Chandler Jones, who suffered an ankle injury in the first half of the Colts game, and guard Logan Mankins, who has been struggling with a number of injuries this season.
While Belichick refused to acknowledge that there was anything wrong with Gronkowski, tight end Aaron Hernandez and quarterback Tom Brady spoke about playing without the record-setter.
“He’s such a great player,” Brady said during his weekly contractually obligated appearance on WEEI.
“It sucks that he gets hurt, but it’s part of this game, so he’s got to do his best to get back as soon as possible, and we’ve got to go out there and win some games without him.”
Hernandez, who was drafted the same year as Gronkowski and has lockered right near him ever since, said he sent his friend a text message when he found out the news Sunday night.
“Everyone here is hurt by it, especially him,” Hernandez said. “But I’m sure he’ll be all right and get back fast.
“It’s tough; he’s obviously one of the best players in the league, but we have a lot of players and everyone has to step up to fill the void.”
Hernandez will be one of the players to do that — he is very likely to return to the field Thursday night.
He suffered an ankle sprain in Week 2, then returned four games later against Seattle and played a bit more a week later, against the Jets.
But Hernandez played more snaps against New York than intended, and it caused a setback in his recovery. He has not played since, and he was held out of Sunday’s game with an eye toward the Thanksgiving matchup with the Jets. With so little time between games, there was concern that he might have trouble playing both.
Another option at tight end could be Visanthe Shiancoe. The veteran was signed as a free agent in the offseason but has only played in two games; the Patriots designated Shiancoe as the one player who could be removed from injured reserve, and he returned to the practice field last month before playing in his first game against the Bills two weeks ago.
Shiancoe played just nine snaps against Buffalo, but his snaps increased to 26 against Indianapolis. He has not caught a pass yet.
Multiple media reports have Gronkowski missing at least four weeks, which would mean in addition to the Jets game, he’d be sidelined for the game at Miami Dec. 2, and then for home games against Houston and San Francisco.
The truth is that no one player can replace Gronkowski, who is a standout blocker and a tough matchup as a receiver, particularly in the red zone. It will take a combination of players.
“Everyone has to step up and make plays and follow the game plan, and I’m sure we’ll be all right,” Hernandez said.
“It’ll change some things. Whatever the change is, we’ve just got to make plays and fill that void that we’re going to be missing.”
“He does a lot for us,” Brady said. “But I think there’s a reason you have other guys on the roster, too.
“Everyone’s got to get in there and start making up for having Gronk out, so that’s just part of it and you have to find ways to adjust.
“We still gotta go out there and win.”