BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Gronkowski may have sounded like his usual jovial self Friday after practice, but the Patriots tight end is the first to admit he’s not back to 100 percent.
Gronk has been on the practice field with his teammates, but is not taking place in drills in the early days of training camp. He’s working individually when everyone else breaks off for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as he continues to rehab from the torn ACL and MCL that sidelined him for the final month of last season.
But for Gronkowski, who has missed 14 games in the last two seasons, he’s just happy to be back on the field.
“If feels great to be out there with my teammates again — being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady. It’s a dream come true again,” Gronkowski told the crowd of media that surrounded him following Friday’s practice. “It feels like it got taken away and now I have it back, so it’s awesome.”
Gronkowski said he worked hard in his rehab all offseason to get to this point, making for a somewhat calm “Summer of Gronk” — at least by Gronk standards.
“It was boring this year. I was rehabbing every day and was miserable. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again; I don’t wish nothing on anyone like I’ve had the past few years,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to the future, getting back on the field and making plays, helping my teammates.”
While he’s not back to full Gronk-form, he’s working hard to get there soon.
“For the last six months, I worked my butt off to be out here – to be out here for my teammates, to be out here for myself and come out here, be satisfied running routes with the quarterbacks, running routes with the tight ends, learning from the coaches. It feels great to be out here every single day cutting on it, making it stronger and improving on it every single day, strengthening it so I’m there and I’m ready,” he said.
“If I was 100 percent, I’d be doing every single thing so no, I’m not 100 percent right now, obviously not,” he added. “I’m working my way to get to that and I’m working every single day to get to that and improving every single day.”
The All Pro tight end missed training camp last season as he worked his way back from a summer full or surgeries, including multiple operations on his twice-broken forearm and a procedure to help a lingering back injury. He wasn’t placed on the PUP list, but still missed the first six weeks of the season.
There was speculation that the Patriots and the Gronkowski camp were not on the same page throughout last year’s rehab, but Gronkowski said that’s not the case. The two sides are once again on the same page with his recovery, but this year he’s preparing to be ready to go when the Pats kick off their season on September 7 in Miami.
“I’m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game. I really can’t say anything from here on out because it’s far away,” he said. “Every single day, I’m just giving it everything I’ve got in the rehab room and out here on the field. I’m preparing myself and listening to my trainers, what they have for me so that I’m ready to go when it comes down to it.”
While he won’t be throwing his body around and absorbing hits from the defense on Saturday when the Pats don pads for the first time this camp, Gronkowski still said it’s an important step to start running routes in pads. He’s going the only speed he knows when he’s out there, full-speed, and even with all the ailments he’s suffered over the last 24 months has no plans on changing his style.
“Nah, I ain’t changing that one bit. I’m going to go full speed when I’m out there and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing in everything I do,” he said with a chuckle. “Maybe if it’s not necessary one single bit I’ll go down, but if I can make some plays and gain some extra yards and get in the end zone, I’m definitely going to go full speed and do everything I can.”
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