According to a report by the Boston Herald, Rob Gronkowski has been dealing with an infection to his surgically-repaired left arm which could force him to miss the start of the 2013 season.

From the Herald:

According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, tight end Rob Gronkowski has been battling a stubborn infection in the area around where a second metal plate was installed to repair his broken left forearm and his readiness for the season is in jeopardy.

Gronkowski has been taking antibiotics for about six weeks, according to the Herald, but it's "not yet assured" that the tight end's arm infection has been completely healed.

The report goes on to say that doctors will perform surgery on Gronkowski to replace the plate currently in his arm with a new one. But if an infection is found during the procedure, the new plate would not be introduced. In that scenario, the infection would have to be eradicated before a new plate could be inserted in a separate procedure at a later date. Under that timeline, Gronkowski would not have time sufficient to heal and be ready for the start of the season.

It's made clear in the report, however, that there is a chance Gronkowski could be ready to start the season so long as there is no infection found in his arm during the plate-replacement surgery. If that's the case, the new plate will be inserted immediately and Tom Brady would have his favorite red-zone target ready to go for Week 1 of the season.

Gronkowski broke his arm in a Week 11 game versus Indianapolis last season while blocking during an extra point. He had a metal plate inserted in his arm and missed five weeks, then played in the final regular-season game against Miami. Against the Dolphins, Gronkowski looked tentative, but he played again in the AFC divisional playoff win against the Texans after a bye week.