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Patriots' Gronkowski near return

The SportsXchange

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will attempt to practice this week and but remains doubtful to play in his first game since he was injured in the regular-season finale in December 2012 against the Miami Dolphins.

Gronkowski missed one month and five games last season between Nov. 22 and Dec. 23 with a broken forearm.

If the tight end doesn't play in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he is likely to debut by the Week 4 trip to Atlanta.

Quarterback Tom Brady did not target a tight end last Thursday in the Patriots' 13-10 victory over the Jets. His top receiver has been Julian Edelman with Gronkowski and Danny Amendola injured.

In 2012, Brady targeted tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski 163 times and 237 times in 2011. Hernandez was released in June 26 and is awaiting trial on murder charges.

Gronkowski hasn't participated in full-contact drills and missed most of the offseason because of multiple surgeries on his forearm, which became infected, and another operation on his back. He also had back surgery at the University of Arizona and, unable to do workouts before the draft, fell to the second round (42nd overall).

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