FOXBORO (CBS) — It’s no secret that the Patriots are taking it easy with regard to getting Rob Gronkowski on the field this summer. Gronk proved to be the most valuable weapon in Tom Brady’s offense last season, so the Patriots have been easing him back in as he recovers from a torn ACL.

Such a high-profile knee injury prompted some comments from former NFL safety Rodney Harrison, who said that opponents will target that knee in order take out Gronkowski.

For his part, Gronkowski said he can’t worry about specific hits, because in the NFL, you can’t avoid contact.

“It’s the NFL. You’re hitting every single play, every single down. You can be hit anywhere,” Gronkowski told reporters on Tuesday. “So you’ve just got to be aware who’s coming at you and where they’re coming at you, and you gotta make a move. You gotta dive, you gotta get out of the way, you gotta put your shoulder down — whatever it is, you gotta be prepared for anything. It’s the NFL — everyone’s big, everyone’s fast and everyone can hit.”

Regarding his game specifically, Gronkowski said he always tries to be aware of where the defense is on every play so that he can turn the tables on the doling out of physical punishment.

“It’s the whole part of football. You don’t want to just receive all the hits; you want to be delivering hits, you want to be delivering blocks,” Gronkowski said. “Everyone knows that if you’re catching the ball, you can get lit up at any time — up the middle, a guy coming from anywhere. So you’ve just got to make a play, know who’s around you, just keep on practicing, know where the guys are on their defense and just try and be the guy where you make the hit and make some yards.”

Gronkowski said he continues to make progress in his rehab, though he does not have a specific timetable set for returning to full participation. But when he does step on the field in a situation where he’s going to be hit, he doesn’t expect to be paying extra attention to his knee.

“I’m not more conscious about it,” he said. “Just go out there and do what I do and just basically try and make some plays and just get to where I’m not thinking about anything and go out there and just keep on rolling.”


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