Rob Gronkowski will undergo a fourth surgery on his left arm, according to a league source. The procedure could happen next week.
A league source Thursday night said the infection that has plagued the Patriots tight end’s left arm for a couple of months likely has cleared, and he will have a plate in the arm replaced.
NFL Network reported orthopedic surgeon Jesse Jupiter will perform the procedure next week at Mass General Hospital. According to the MGH website, Jupiter specializes in the care of traumatic and reconstructive problems of the upper limbs, including fracture healing and failure to heal.
The network also reported Gronkowski’s team recently consulted with noted orthopedist James Andrews.
Gronkowski is scheduled to wrap up his most recent course of antibiotics in a matter of days. A league source said this month that if doctors felt the infection had sufficiently cleared up, they would replace the plate.
Another surgery means a restart of the rehab clock for Gronkowski. Patriots training camp is scheduled to begin in about 10 weeks.
This situation goes back to Nov. 18, when Gronkowski broke his arm late in a win over the Colts.
But after the surgery to install a plate and missing several games, Gronkowski played sparingly in the regular-season finale, then started the AFC divisional round playoff game against Houston, only to break the arm again diving for a first-quarter pass. The second break was just past the spot where the plate ended, closer to his elbow.
That resulted in a second surgery. The third procedure was in late February to clean up an infection.
Dont’a Hightower isn’t far removed from his rookie season, but the second-year Patriots linebacker is enjoying the perks of being a veteran.
“It feels pretty good, not having to go get the water bottles or having to put the equipment up or do little things like that,” Hightower said Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “But it also feels good to have some of the other guys look up to me. I know I’m just a second-year guy, but I feel like I know the ropes a little bit better at this point as opposed to my rookie year.”
One of New England’s two first-round draft picks, the former Alabama standout played in 14 games last season, starting all but one. The coaching staff credited him with 75 tackles and four sacks.
Hightower knows he has a lot of work still ahead of him.
“I learned a lot from when I first came in, and I learned a lot [over the course of the year],’’ he said. “Now I know about my strengths and my weaknesses, and that’s some of the things I’m working on now and trying to get done in training camp, minicamp, before the season.”
Signs of the times
The Patriots got two more draft picks under contract on Thursday: cornerback Logan Ryan and linebacker Steve Beauharnais.
Ryan, taken 83d overall, is listed at 5 feet 11 inches, 191 pounds; last fall he had four interceptions and 21 passes defensed for Rutgers. The 6-1, 240-pound Beauharnais, the the team’s final pick (235th overall), had 16 tackles for a loss last season at Rutgers.
Jaguars add Love
The Jaguars have added another ex-Patriots defensive lineman, landing fourth-year tackle Kyle Love off waivers from New England. The Jaguars claimed defensive end Brandon Deaderick off waivers from the Patriots this week. The Patriots released Love Wednesday after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes . . . A warrant has been issued for the arrest of former Patriots receiver Chad Johnson in Fort Lauderdale. The state attorney’s office confirmed that a Broward circuit judge issued a warrant May 7 against Johnson for failing to report to his probation officer. Johnson received a year of probation last September after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge involving his former wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada. The six-time Pro Bowler was cut by the Dolphins shortly after . . . The Browns signed former Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer to a two-year deal.
Bills tap Whaley
Doug Whaley was promoted to take over as Bills general manager, making the team’s near top-to-bottom offseason overhaul complete. The much-anticipated decision to elevate Whaley from his position as assistant GM was announced Thursday, three days after Buddy Nix stepped down as GM . . . Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he was “absolutely not’’ aware of and did not participate in the practices that led to the investigation into his Pilot Flying J company, a truck-stop chain that is the nation’s largest diesel fuel retailer. Federal investigators allege that Pilot deliberately withheld rebates to boost profits . . . Punter Chris Kluwe, who was released this month by the Vikings, told Foxsports.com that he will sign with the Raiders . . . The Cowboys signed defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who sat out 2012 after he was suspended in the Saints’ bounty scandal.