By Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills won't have to worry about Wes Welker when they host the New England Patriots on opening day, and might not have to cover Rob Gronkowski either.
NFL Network gadabout Albert Breer reports Gronkowski, the former Williamsville North star, will undergo back surgery next month and miss part of training camp.
The surgery was expected, but you have to wonder how many scalpels Gronkowski's body can take and whether repeated operations will derail a potential Hall of Fame career.
Back surgery forced him to miss a season for the University of Arizona. Ankle surgery hobbled him for the postseason of his second year with the Patriots.
He had four previous surgeries this offseason on a broken left forearm with a recurring infection issue.
Gronkowski and Welker have been route canals for the Bills' defense.
Gronkowski has scored at least one touchdown in all six games he played against his hometown team. He has 30 receptions for 449 yards and nine touchdowns. That pace would bring this season stat line: 80 catches, 1,197 yards and 24 touchdowns.
In a dozen games for New England against Buffalo, Welker scored only two touchdowns but produced on par with overall stats that made him the NFL's most prolific target over the past six years.
Welker had 84 receptions for 948 yards in those dozen games against Buffalo, an average of seven catches for 79 yards. His average game for the Patriots was 7.2 catches for 80.2 yards.