BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Gronkowski admits he isn’t 100 percent heading into the 2016 season.
But then again, when has the Patriots tight end been completely free of any bumps and bruises, given the way he likes to collide with defenders and drag them down the field?
Still, it created a bit of a stir Wednesday night when Gronkowski was listed as “limited” on New England’s first practice report of the new season, and that concern began to grow when ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss later reported that the behemoth playmaker was still dealing with a hamstring injury that forced him to leave a joint practice session with the Chicago Bears nearly a month ago.
Gronkowski was asked how he’s feeling Thursday afternoon, as he and the Patriots prepare for Sunday night’s season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, and admitted he’s not completely healthy. But it doesn’t sound like his injury will keep Gronk from taking the field in Phoenix this weekend.
“Ever since that one practice with the Bears, I’ve been week-to-week with a little hammy thing. So, day-by-day, but I’m feeling good,” he told reporters. “I can’t put a percentage on it, but I’m feeling better every day.”
Gronkowski said he’ll meet with New England’s medical staff and head coach Bill Belichick before a final decision is made, but it certainly sounds like he’ll be catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo come Sunday night on national TV. And Gronk is, as he would put it, “super” confident that Garoppolo is ready for the spotlight that goes with taking Tom Brady’s spot for the first four games of the regular season.
“He’s looking solid. I love it; you’ve definitely seen an improvement all the way from his rookie year, last year to this year. I feel like he’s ready to go,” said Gronkowski.
Gronk and the rest of the Patriots’ offensive weapons have a tough test Sunday night against the Cardinals defense, which ranked second in the NFL in 2015 with 33 forced turnovers. It’s a unit that is always looking to pick the ball off or knock it out of a receiver’s hands, and Gronkowski knows he’ll have to take special care of the football with Arizona’s ball hawking abilities.
“They’re tough and they have a knack for the ball. They like to hustle to the ball, and they like to get turnovers,” he said. “You have to be aware of that and be ready. They’re fast, physical and ready to play.”
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