|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm at the end of the team's 59-24 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, a team source confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The source told Schefter that Gronkowski was injured on the Patriots' final extra point with 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. X-rays after the game revealed the broken forearm. The injury, though, is not expected to end Gronkowski's season. He will have surgery at some point.
"I knew he had gotten injured, but I obviously didn't know the extent," quarterback Tom Brady said on his weekly appearance on WEEI sports radio in Boston. "But he's such a great player, it sucks that he gets hurt, but it's part of this game. He's got to do his best to get back as soon as possible, and we've got to go out there and win some games without him."
An exact timetable for Gronkowski's return is unknown, but NFL.com reported Sunday night that the player has told people he will miss four to six weeks.
"Rob is obviously a special player, so when he goes down, it will obviously hurt," fellow tight end Michael Hoomanawanui said after the game before the extent of the injury was known. "But we have a lot of depth and a lot of guys anxious to fill in and help this team win. Hopefully we can get Aaron (Hernandez) back (from an ankle injury). We'll just say a prayer and keep moving on."
Gronkowski has followed up his record-setting season in 2011 with another strong campaign in '12, collecting 53 catches for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns through 10 games. He had seven receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win against the Colts.
The Patriots have leaned heavily upon Gronkowski in the absence of Hernandez, who has missed six games this season due to an ankle injury suffered in Week 2.
Entering Week 11, Gronkowski had been on the field for 668 of the team's 710 offensive snaps (94.1 percent), the highest total among the team's offensive skill position players.
Indications are that Hernandez is nearing a return, and the Patriots have a pair of veterans in Visanthe Shiancoe and Daniel Fells as well as Hoomanawanui at tight end to add depth.
Gronkowski had 90 catches for 1,327 yards and a tight end-record 17 touchdowns last season.
Gronkowski has been listed as questionable in recent weeks due to a hip issue but has played through the injury. He has not missed a game in his career and notably played through an ankle injury during Super Bowl XLVI that required surgery after the season.
"When anyone, let alone Rob, goes down, that's part of the business. One play, you never know, unfortunately it could happen," Hoomanawanui said. "You just have to be ready to step up and keep taking on whatever role the team needs you to play. We'll move on and be ready to fill in and get ready for the Jets on Thursday."
The Patriots will visit the Jets on Thursday night, when they will look to build upon their AFC East division lead.
Field Yates is a contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Information from ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.