New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont'a Hightower could both return as early as Sunday, according to a report.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Hightower's knee injury was judged by two separate doctors to require just two to three weeks off, meaning he could return to face the Texans in Week 3 or the Panthers in Week 4.
ESPN reported Sunday, citing sources, that Hightower had sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, a renowned surgeon specializing in ligament injuries. The linebacker injured his knee during the Patriots' Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
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The Patriots have publicly been quiet on Gronkowski, with Tom Brady saying on WEEI Monday that he wasn't sure how Gronk was doing and head coach Bill Belichick saying he didn't have "any updates" during a conference call. Rapoport, however, said Gronkowski might not miss any time after exiting Sunday's game against the Saints with a groin injury.
"Sounds to me, based on the people I'm speaking with, that this is a minor injury for Gronkowski," Rapoport said. "Doesn't seem like this is something that will keep Gronkowski sidelined long, if at all."
Rapoport suggests that if the injury had happened later in the season or in a more meaningful game situation, Gronkowski might have been back out on the field.