The word on Rob Gronkowski is encouraging. In fact he might be catching passes from Tom Brady and throwing down some of his trademark spikes as soon as Week 3 against Tampa Bay.

According to a source the Patriots tight end is progressing very well in his rehabilitation from back and forearm surgeries performed months ago. He’s “right on schedule” for a September return. In fact he’s healed to the point where he would be close to playing Week 1 in Buffalo the source said.

But the more realistic time frame for him to be in “football shape” would be shortly after that right around the third game. Now if that’s the case it would seem doubtful the Pats would keep him on the physically unable to perform list where he currently resides. Having him stay on the PUP would guarantee he misses the first six games.

Given the timetable laid out by the source unless the Pats go the overly cautious route or he suffers some kind of setback it would appear they’d take him off the PUP list with thoughts of playing him as early as Game 3 or perhaps Game 4 in Atlanta.

Game 2 against the Jets is on Thursday Sept. 12 just four days after the opener so waiting until Week 3 could be the plan.
The PUP decision is ultimately up to Patriots coach Bill Belichick but it appears much clearer at the moment.

As it is the Pats have been holding Gronk back according to the source. That’s how well he’s doing.

The Pro Bowl tight end underwent back surgery in June with noted surgeon Robert Watkins performing the procedure. Prior to that he had surgery to replace a plate in his forearm thanks to a nagging arm infection.