Rob Gronkowski Is New England’s Bubble Boy.

If there’s one thing the Pats didn’t need, it was another blow to Tom Brady’s receiving corps. The Pats went from having a plethora of riches in the receiving vault to bankrupt in a matter of months. Anything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

Wes Welker threw deuces up and migrated West to join Brady’s adversary in Denver. Scat back Danny Woodhead eluded the Pats and will be catching bubble screens from Philip Rivers in San Diego this season.  Donte Stallworth literally had a run-in with power lines before signing with the Washington Redskins on Friday and Brandon Lloyd hasn’t attracted interest on the free agent market. Dynamic receivers are the bread to Brady's butter in Belichick's spread offensive attack.

For the past two summers bubble boy, Rob Gronkowski’s spent an inordinate amount of time rehabbing injuries. Gronkowski finally had his fourth and final forearm surgery of the offseason and was finally in the clear for the summer.

Not quite. On Tuesday, Gronkowski will undergo a microdiscectomy to repair a herniated disk in his back. The rehab is expected to take 12 weeks, which put him on course to return around Week 1, however, as we learned during his broken forearm saga, Gronkowski’s body doesn’t always cooperate to normal medical timetables. It's more likely that the Pats will put him on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season.

Compounding the situation is that this is the second time Gronk’s back has been operated on. Gronkowski’s had surgery performed on another herniated disk after his junior season at Arizona derailed his entire junior campaign and prior to the 2010 draft he was red flagged as an injury risk. That scouting report still holds weight, but the reward still outweighs the risk.

If any setbacks do occur, the Pats will be left with Julian Edelman, Aaron Hernandez, brittle-boned Danny Amendola and a cast of John Does as Brady’s primary targets. On the plus side, things could be worse. He could have Mark Sanchez's butterfingered receivers. Either way, this season may be as good a time as any for the Pats to reinvest in the power running game that they’ve largely phased out since their last Super Bowl victory.