Patriots' Gronkowski reportedly set for back surgery


New England Patriots' star tight end Rob Gronkowski's back injury appears to be worse than originally thought and he will undergo surgery on Friday to repair a ruptured disk, according to widespread reports.

While there is no exact timetable for his return, Gronkowski is expected to miss eight weeks, according to the Buffalo News, which was first to report the story.

On that timeline, he would be out until the AFC Championship game if the Patriots advance that far.

In an injury-hampered season, Gronkowski has just 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns.

The Patriots will likely be forced to start Martellus Bennett, who also has been dealing with injuries this season. Bennett has 42 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns.