Examining the Rob Gronkowski dilemma

The New England Patriots (10-3) may have a surprise return Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1).

Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe reports Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski (arm) will try to practice this week. Based on his progress, that could set the table for a possible Gronkowski return this weekend.

Gronkowski missed the past three games with a broken arm. He immediately had surgery and was projected to miss four to six weeks.

The Patriots and Gronkowski must be very careful with this decision. Gronkowski, like most young players, is eager to get on the field as soon as possible, and there is always a chance of coming back too soon. The Patriots need to weigh the long- and short-term risks. A possible reinjury could knock Gronkowski, their best pass-catcher, out for the season.

New England has kept its offense rolling despite Gronkowski's injury. The Patriots are averaging 38 points in the three games he missed, which included last Monday's 42-14 thrashing of the Houston Texans. New England's offense is in rhythm and perhaps could afford to rest Gronkowski for another game or two to make sure he's 100 percent. The big picture for the Patriots is to have all their weapons ready for the playoffs.

Would a Gronkowski return this week be too soon? Using our SportNation poll, cast your vote on the "Gronk" dilemma.