Late last week, days before Rob Gronkowski would miss his sixth straight game to start the 2013 season, there were reportedly "serious concerns" about the forearm surgery that had kept the Patriotstight on the sidelines.
Gronk's return remains a mystery. On Wednesday, his agent, Drew Rosehaus, said the tight end hasn't yet been cleared to play by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who is independently consulting with Gronkowski.
"I don't understand why this story has gotten so much traction," Rosenhaus told 560 WQAM-AM in Miami (via the Boston Globe). "There are dozens of players around the NFL who aren't playing because they are injured and coming back from surgery. And in Rob's case, this is really straightforward. Up to this point, he hasn't been cleared to play in a game. He has not been cleared by Dr. (James) Andrews, who is the supervising doctor."
So when can we expect Gronk back on the field? Well, it's complicated.
"There's a huge difference between being cleared to practice and being cleared to play in a game," Rosenhaus said. "I've had great dialogue with coach Belichick and the Patriots medical staff, and Rob and his family. Everybody's on the same page, except it's gotten a lot of play in the media and all these unsubstantiated sources. ...
"All I can tell you [is] it's really straightforward: When Rob is cleared, he'll play," Rosenhaus continued. "It shouldn't be a big surprise to people that the guy has a very cautious approach right now, because he had four operations on that forearm and he had a back operation. ...
"Quite frankly, it's not a huge upset that up to this point he hasn't been cleared to play in a game," Rosenhaus said. "We anticipated this. Hopefully he'll be back soon, maybe even this weekend, but there's no way to know until the end of the week when his doctors make that determination."
For now, the Patriots trudge on without Gronkowski, which means that Brady remains without his top five receivers from last season. And while the offense has sputtered over the first six weeks of the season -- and Brady, at times, has looked awful -- the Patriots are 5-1 and lead the AFC East. And that lead will widen Sunday if they can put away a bad Jets team.