BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Gronkowski was one happy guy on Thursday.
The Patriots tight end was cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol and was a full participant in Thursday’s practice. Clearing the league’s concussion protocol was the only hurdle left for the All-Pro to play in Sunday’s Super Bowl LII match up with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It was super nice to [get cleared] and I’m ready to roll,” he said to reporters with a gigantic, boyish smile on his face. “It was good to be out there with the boys, getting the chemistry down.”
The tight end suffered the concussion in the second half of New England’s AFC Championship Game win over the Jaguars, and though he was a limited participant in practice since Saturday, had to wait for official word of his clearance before knowing for sure that he’d play on Sunday. Gronkowski said he didn’t have any doubt that he would eventually be cleared to play, and after missing last year’s Super Bowl with a back injury, he’s ready to do his thing on the game’s biggest stage once again.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “I’ll be full speed, running routes and setting blocks, whatever it has to be. … I’m feeling good.”
Gronkowski didn’t want to talk about the immediate aftermath of the hit that sent him into the concussion protocol, or how “shaky up” he was, but doesn’t think Barry Church’s high hit was a dirty play.
“It’s football; it is what it is. It was a split second to make a decision. He’s running full speed one way; I’m going the other way. It’s just part of the game,” he said. “It happens and you have to move on.”
Gronkowski finished with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 regular season games, and had another seven receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs before the injury. The Eagles have struggled against tight ends this season, so Gronkowski should play a big role in Super Bowl LII.
“They’re a very good team, they play hard, are fast and physical. But it all depends on how you play on Sunday,” he said of the Eagles. “It doesn’t matter what the match ups look like throughout the week, it’s how you go out and play on Sunday.”
And in pure Gronk fashion, he’s hoping to do some celebrating late Sunday evening.
“Hopefully we can go and fiesta after the game,” he added.