Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports that a source tells them that Gronkowski is “close” for an opening day debut, but he should be back by mid-September. Specifically, by week three against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
[Gronkowski is]healed and advanced to the point where he would be close to playing Week 1 in Buffalo, the source said.
However, the more realistic time frame for him to be ready and in “football shape” would be shortly after, right around Game 3 against Tampa Bay assuming there are no setbacks.
The report goes on to explain that if a return that early is anticipated, it’s doubtful that the tight end would stay on the physically unactive to perform list — if so, he would have to miss the first six games of the season.
Gronkowski didn’t miss a single game in his first two seasons with the Patriots, but has since missed five games last season and has undergone multiple surgeries with his ankle.