BOSTON (CBS) – After missing the last five games with a broken forearm, Rob Gronkowski was back on the field for Sunday’s regular season finale at Gillette Stadium.
And the Patriots tight end couldn’t have been happier to be back out there.
“I was out there having a good time with my teammates. It was a blast being back out there on the field,” he said following the Patriots 28-0 win over the Dolphins.
He was limited in his return, playing only about a quarter of the Patriots snaps in their 28-0 win over the Dolphins, but made his presence felt. He caught two passes, including a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and opened up passing lanes for the other receivers by commanding attention from the Miami defense.
Gronkowski On Return, First-Round Bye:
But most importantly, Gronkowski was happy to have a chance to knock off some of the rust before the playoffs begin in two weeks.
“I got limited reps, but you always want to get some reps before heading into the playoffs,” he said. “It’s good to get the speed down, the feel of the game. You can go hard in practice, but that was game time.”
Gronkowski’s teammates were certainly happy to have him back on the field, even if it was in a limited role.
“He made a couple big catches. It was nice to get him back in the flow of things,” said quarterback Tom Brady. “We used everybody, so it was exciting to kind of have everybody out there at once for the first time all season. We’ll use the bye and hopefully come back strong in a couple weeks.”
“His presence just helps us that much more,” said fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez. “You know when Gronk is on the field you have to double him; he’s too big and too athletic. It opens up for me, Wes (Welker), (Brandon Lloyd) and Deion (Branch). It’s just good to have him back, and he’s going to be even healthier come playoff time.”
Gronkowski said he received medical clearance early in the week, but tip-toed around when he was actually told he would play. Instead, he said he had been preparing since Monday as though he would suit up against Miami.
The Patriots Pro Bowl tight end took the field with a protective wrap on his left arm. He said he got used to playing with it during practice and it was not a big deal at all. As for how healthy his arm was, there were times during blocking plays he shied away from using the arm, but also tip-toed around answering that question.
But one thing he didn’t shy away from on Sunday was contact. Gronkowski is never one to worry about getting hit, and he welcomed it in his return.
“I haven’t got hit in a while. It’s been about six weeks since I got hit,” he said. “It’s football; I’m always ready to get hit, always ready to be knocked down. You just have to get back up and get back out there. It felt good to be in the huddle.”
Now Gronkowski and the Patriots will have an extra week to rest up and get healthy, which is always important this time of the year.
“It’s always good to get a week off; extra time to heal, extra time to get stronger, and extra time to do what you need to do to get out there and be going full speed,” said Gronkowski. “Everyone on the team, all their nicks and bruises, can get better. Hopefully we take it to our advantages.”