FOXBOROUGH — Not that we really expected anything different, but Rob Gronkowski shed no light on what might happen with him this week in regards to whether he’ll make his much-anticipated return to the Patriots’ lineup for their game with New Orleans.
“It’s basically nothing new,” the tight end said Thursday. “I mean, I’m just working hard every week, working hard out at practice, and nothing’s changed. We’re day by day, like we’ve been from the very beginning, and it’s all about the New England Patriots versus the New Orleans Saints this weekend and it’s going to be exciting. They’ve got a good team.”
With the Patriots 31st in the NFL in red-zone success, getting Gronkowski back — he has scored 30 red-zone touchdowns in his career — could provide a big boost. Asked if he believes the team needs him as he watches the games, he said, “I”m just doing whatever the coach asks me to do. I’m out at practice, doing what my teammates ask me to do, and just trying to help the team out to my max ability.”
The rest of his brief locker room chat with reporters:
Q: At this point, can you play on Sunday?
A. “I’m just working every day, and improving every day to my max and taking it day by day.”
Q: What is going to be the feeling when you finally get back out there?
A. “It’s going to be a great feeling, obviously. Just been working hard toward that goal and working hard to achieve that, so it’s going to be exciting and when it happens, it’s going to be awesome.”
Q: Is there something in particular you and the doctors are looking for, something quantifiable, before you play?
A. “Um … really, just taking it each day at a time and trying to improve every day at a time and that’s all.”
Q: Your conditioning – are you ready to play if you’re cleared Sunday?
A. “I’m improving every week and obviously when I started at the beginning, conditioning was pretty rough, but that’s what practice is for and working hard is for, so just improving every week, taking it day by day, and we’ll be super excited when I get out there. Thank you.”
And with that, he departed for the weight room.Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.