FOXBOROUGH — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was back to being his silly self Wednesday, though in between the one-liners, he didn’t give any indication as to whether he’ll be back on the field this Sunday against the Falcons.
Asked right off the bat for an update, Gronkowski said, “There really isn’t an update. You know how we go . . . just improving every week. Definitely, I’ve got to say I’m improved since last week, I’m improved since a few weeks ago, and that’s all I can ask for.
“Taking everything day by day, and today I went out and practiced, went to meetings, did everything normal. So just day by day and improving every day.”
As to his potential availability when the Patriots travel to Atlanta for a Sunday night game, Gronkowski said, “I don’t know. As of right now, we’re just focusing day by day, and tomorrow’s another step forward and we’ve got to see.”
And there seems to be no easy answer on when Gronkowski, who is coming back from offseason surgery on his arm and back, will know that he’s ready to play for the first time in more than nine months.
“When will I know? Just when it clicks, I guess,” said Gronkowski, who was officially listed on Wednesday’s injury report as “limited.”
“All I can ask for is to work hard every day and do what the coaches ask me to do, do what my teammates ask me to do, and do what the training staff asks me to do. If I do that at full speed, that’s all I’m really asking for, and when the time’s ready, the time’s ready.”
The tight end provided quite the laugh when he was asked if he felt he was close to playing against Tampa Bay last Sunday.
“I was inactive,” he said, echoing coach Bill Belichick’s (oft-repeated) words at Monday’s press conference.
The gathered reporters, most of whom were present for Monday’s exchange had a long laugh, and Gronkowski joined in, indicating that he was in on the joke as well.
Since the Patriots had upgraded his status for last week from the “doubtful” it had been for Weeks 1 and 2 to “questionable,” what kinds of improvements did he make that led to the change?
“I don’t even know. I don’t know how any of that works,” said Gronkowski, smiling. “So . . . I’m still wondering how that works — doubtful, questionable.
“I guess, like I said, I’ve been improving every week, so whoever makes that call must have seen some improvement to put me from ‘doubtful’ to ‘questionable.’ ”
After multiple surgeries on his left arm as well as back surgery in June, Gronkowski missed a great deal of time in the weight room. A big part of his recovery has been regaining the strength that’s a big part of his game.
“That’s part of the whole rehab process,” he said. “It’s not just rehabbing your arm and the back. I took off my whole body for a couple of months. So you’ve got to get everything going again, all muscles firing again in all parts of your body.
“So that’s a big process, getting back in shape, running shape, football shape, and getting your strength back. I’ve just been working on that the whole time the last few weeks also.”
Does he feel his strength is back where it needs to be?
“My strength is improving week to week, and that’s all I can ask for right now,” he said. “It definitely improved greatly from four weeks ago, and improving every week from when I started.”
NFL Network reported last Sunday that it was Gronkowski’s arm, not his back, that is keeping him off the field at this point, but Gronkowski said everything has been involved.
Gronkowski looked lean during training camp, particularly in his upper body, which made sense given where his surgeries were.
Asked how much weight he lost, Gronkowski drew more laughs.
“Nothing really. I don’t lose weight,” he said. “I can look skinny and still be the same amount of weight. It goes by ‘skinny’ or ‘looking jacked.’ So I was skinny back for a few months.”
Is he now back in the “jacked” range?
“You’ve got to tell me. I’m getting there. Day by day getting bigger.”