He broke the forearm again when he landed on it on an incomplete pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter of the Patriots' playoff win over the Houston Texans, then had surgery and missed the AFC championship loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
He underwent two more operations on the forearm after an infection developed, then had back surgery in June.
After the fourth forearm surgery on May 20, Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said, "He should make a full recovery, according to the doctors I met with."
Without him, the Patriots have been one of the NFL's least productive teams. They're 24th in points and 18th in yards per game after leading the league in both categories last year.
The defense has been solid but won't have starting defensive tackle Tommy Kelly against the Saints. He is listed as out with a knee injury. The other starting defensive tackle, Vince Wilfork, is on season-ending injured reserve.
Also listed as out is running back Leon Washington, who has played a limited role.
Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/