BOSTON (CBS) — In past years, it was clear that the New England Patriots and Rob Gronkowski were not nearly on the same page with regard to the tight end’s rehab and recovery schedule. This year, based on a report, the two parties appear to be in agreement, with the plan set for Gronkowski to be ready to play in Week 1.

NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported at the end of last week that while it’s possible that Gronkowski could be ready to go full speed for the start of training camp, the team is placing a greater emphasis on Gronkowski being healthy for Week 1 in Miami on Sept. 7.

“Rob Gronkowski’s rehab this year has been a lot smoother than last year, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to start taking risks,” Breer reported. “The Patriot Pro Bowler plans on spending a good chunk of time between now and camp rehabbing near Foxboro, and things are right on schedule. It’s possible that he’d be ready for the start of camp, but he and the team aren’t going to do anything to jeopardize the real goal, which is to have him on the field for Week 1.”

Last season, Gronkowski played in just seven games. He missed the first six weeks of the season after undergoing multiple surgeries on his forearm and back in the offseason, and he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 14 against Cleveland.

That torn knee is the one from which he’s currently recovering, and an early September return to action would be at about 10 months, which is what tends to be the current recovery time for such an injury these days. Wes Welker returned to the Patriots eight months after tearing his knee, while Adrian Peterson returned after nine months.

Nevertheless, it was unknown how long it would take for Gronkowski to return, given his injury history. Two seasons ago, he suffered a broken forearm in mid-November, and though he returned in Week 17, he very clearly was avoiding using his injured arm. In the divisional playoffs, he made a diving attempt for a ball along the right sideline and suffered a break of the same arm, thereby ending his season. A rift between the Patriots and the Gronkowski family regarding Rob’s health reportedly grew fairly large, but the report this offseason seems to suggest that the two parties have found a solution that works for all.

Gronkowski, still just 25 years old, is tied for fourth on the Patriots’ all-time list of receiving touchdowns with 42. If he catches nine touchdowns next season, he’ll move into second place on the team’s all-time list. He ranks 13th on the franchise’s all-time reception list with 226, and if he hauls in 67 passes this year he’ll jump into ninth on the all-time list.


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