Gronkowski, who set an NFL single-season record for tight ends with 17 touchdown receptions, had just two catches for 26 yards in the 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis last Sunday. His recovery is expected to last 10-12 weeks and end before the Patriots begin organized team activities in the spring.
The Patriots declined comment.
The All-Pro tight end, a second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Arizona, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, a 23-20 victory.
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Gronkowski's injury and playing status became a major story during an otherwise slow Super Bowl week.
He was listed as questionable on Friday, 48 hours before the game. He had worn a walking boot for a week before shedding it the Monday before the Super Bowl.
He said he had been making progress every day but he participated in just one practice, on the Thursday before the game, and that was on a limited basis.
On the final play of the Super Bowl, Gronkowski was involved in a desperation pass by Tom Brady into the end zone on a third-and-5 at the Patriots 49-yard line. Tight end Aaron Hernandez and three Giants went up for the ball and it landed just out of the reach of a lunging Gronkowski.
"I felt like I was close," Gronkowski said. "But close isn't there."
He also was the intended receiver on a long pass by Brady that was intercepted by Chase Blackburn at the Giants 8-yard line on the second play of the fourth quarter with the Patriots leading 17-15.
During the regular season, Gronkowski had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards with 21 of those catches gaining more than 20 yards. He had three touchdowns in a seven-point win over Indianapolis and three more in a 45-10 divisional playoff victory over Denver,
He and Hernandez combined for 169 receptions and 24 touchdowns as the Patriots went 13-3 and won the AFC East. Gronkowski had started every regular-season game and was healthy for nearly every practice before the ankle injury.
In the first two postseason games, Gronkowski had 15 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns, while Hernandez had 11 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown. In the Super Bowl, Hernandez scored one of the Patriots' two touchdowns and finished with team highs of eight receptions for 67 yards.
At 6-feet-6 and 265 pounds, Gronkowski also emerged as an outstanding blocker.
Gronkowski joined the Patriots after missing the entire 2009 season at Arizona following back surgery. In his two college seasons, he set school career records of 75 catches and 1,191 yards receiving.