Patriots’ Gronkowski to undergo back surgery, likely out for rest of season

Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots attempts to catch a pass as he is defended by Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots attempts to catch a pass as he is defended by Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is having surgery for a herniated disk in his back.

Gronkowski sat out practice Wednesday with what listed as a back injury. He was absent from practice again on Thursday.

He is scheduled to have surgery on Friday, and is not expected to play the rest of the season, according to a statement from the Patriots.

The injury occurred during the Patriots’ loss to the Seahawks on Nov. 13, in which Gronkowski said he received “probably one of the hardest I’ve got hit in my career” from safety Earl Thomas. Besides the back injury, it also led to a pulmonary contusion to his lung.

Gronk sat out the following week against San Francisco. He played part of the first half last week in New England’s win over the New York Jets, but had to leave the game after a hit led to him experiencing significant back and leg pain.

Gronkowski has missed three games this season. He has 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns.

The Patriots said, in part, “Rob has always been one of our hardest workers and was voted captain for the leadership he provides on our team. We are deeply saddened any time a player is lost to injury.  We are committed to assisting Rob throughout his recovery and look forward to his return to playing football for the New England Patriots.”