Rob Gronkowski returns for the New England Patriots

  • By Kareem Copeland
  • Updated: Dec. 30, 2012 at 08:27 a.m.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will return to the field in the regular-season finale,'s Albert Breer reported Sunday morning. Gronk has missed the last five games due to a broken forearm.

Gronkowski led the league in receiving touchdowns when he was injured late in Week 11. He had scored a combined seven touchdowns in his last four games. The Patriots offense continued to roll without Gronkowski, but Tom Brady had both Gronk and tight end Aaron Hernandez on the field together for very short periods in 2012 as Hernandez dealt with his own injuries.

Gronkowski has 53 catches for 748 yards this season and a combined 37 scores in his three seasons, including 17 in 2011. It's almost unfair for the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL to get back a player of Gronkowski's caliber. It shouldn't take long for him to return to form considering the injury wasn't a knee or ankle or something that would limit his range of movement.

The Patriots can clinch a first-round bye with a win against the Miami Dolphins and a loss by the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos. They will have home-field advantage in the AFC with a win and losses for both the Texans and Broncos.

So it's all hands on deck, including one of Brady's favorite targets in Gronkowski.