FOXBOROUGH — Rob Gronkowski’s status has gotten plenty of attention this season, but things were turned up a notch over the weekend, when reports surfaced that the Patriots felt the All-Pro tight end was healthy enough to play but members of Gronkowski’s inner circle, including his father, were holding him back from a return to the field.
But on Wednesday, Gronkowski did his best to clear the air on any alleged problems between himself and the team, and whether he’s being pressured to come back too quickly.
“No, no doubt; no, not at all,” he said about being pressured. “Everything is great around here.
“I’m going out, just going out to practice with the team and practicing with the team. It’s helpful every single week to get the chemistry back down, to get the timing of football down, and being out of football, the first couple days out there, I can’t lie, I was like, ‘Whoa, I feel like a rookie real quick’ because the speed, it was quick.
“But everything’s catching back up and everything’s going good and everyone is doing fine, it’s just a normal week, working hard and getting better.”
In regards to whether everyone involved is of the same mind-set, Gronkowski said, “Oh yes, definitely. We were on the same page from the very get-go, and still on the same page, and it’s going good.
“I’m progressing every week, I’m feeling better every week, getting stronger every week, getting better conditioning every week. Still sticking to the motto, ‘day by day.’ You know, day by day, and it’s going good.”
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said Sunday night during the pregame show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, “There is no dissension between Rob and the Patriots. He’ll come back when everything is right for him to come back.”
Though he was at practice once again Wednesday, and has practiced every day since the regular season began, Gronkowski still gave no indication as to when he will be back in uniform.
“Not sure yet,” he said about his availability for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati. “We’re going day by day right now, and tomorrow’s another day and we’ll go from there.
“When I’m ready, I’m ready. I mean, if it’s this Sunday, next Sunday, Sunday after, it’s just going day by day and so I really couldn’t tell you when it’s going to be so it’s kind of hard to answer that.”
Gronkowski said this is the best he has felt since he began his recovery from four arm surgeries and a back procedure.
“I would say it’s the best I’ve felt right now — that’s because I’ve been working harder every week, progressing every week, and how you train your body is what you get out of it,” he said. “And I’ve been working hard every week and pushing it to another level every week.
“It’s going good, and when you know you’re ready is when it clicks and just going every day however you can to work to your maximum ability.”
The interview began with a reporter asking Gronkowski to share his thoughts on the government shutdown, and he nervously laughed and replied that wasn’t a football question so he couldn’t answer it.
The 24-year-old Gronkowski also would not say whether he felt he returned to the field too quickly at the end of last season, after he initially broke his left forearm, saying it is “way in the past” and he didn’t like thinking about last year.
What he wants, he added, is to get back to a place where the questions he faces are about his performance, not his health.
“Definitely,” he said. “I can’t wait to get out there and play some football and talk about some football.”Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.