Rob Gronkowski returned to the field in January, then broke his arm again. (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)

Because of a lingering infection in the area in which he has had surgery to repair a broken left forearm, tight end Rob Gronkowski might not be ready to play when the season begins.

Gronkowski, who is finishing a six-week cycle of antibiotics, will have to have a plate that was placed in his arm removed to make sure that the infection that developed after surgery in January has cleared up, the Boston Herald reports. The surgery would be the fourth on his forearm, which was initially broken on an extra-point attempt late in a blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 18.

A plate was installed at that time and he missed the next five weeks, then played a bit in the regular-season finale. After a playoff bye week, he played in the AFC divisional game against Houston — and broke the arm just above where the first plate was placed. He had another surgery, then a third in February to treat the infection.

“I’m doing a lot better, definitely. Feeling a lot better,” Gronkowski said on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” show last month. “My arm is feeling way better than it was during the playoffs and regular season when I broke it.

“Right now, just rehabbing, getting the muscle stronger around it. You want to get everything activated, re-activated, because it shuts down for a little bit when it’s healing. Just rehabbing, and when my trainers give me the ‘good to go’, hopefully in the next couple weeks, hopefully as soon as possible … I can get rolling again and get back in the weight room and get back on the field and do what I love doing – running around and catching some balls.”

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