FOXBOROUGH — Tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to receive medical clearance to play in a game for the Patriots, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
Appearing on a Miami radio station Thursday morning, Rosenhaus said there is no tension between player and team over the length of Gronkowski’s absence and the uncertainty over his return, and the agent wondered why it has become such a big story.
“I don’t understand why this story has gotten so much traction,” Rosenhaus said on WQAM-AM 560. “There are dozens of players around the NFL who aren’t playing because they are injured and coming back from surgery.
“In Rob’s case, this is really straightforward. Up to this point, he hasn’t been cleared to play in a game. He has not been cleared by Dr. [James] Andrews, who is the supervising doctor.”
Until that happens, Rosenhaus said, Gronkowski can’t come back, despite the tight end participating in every practice since the start of the season.
“There’s a huge difference between being cleared to practice and being cleared to play in a game,” Rosenhaus said. “I’ve had great dialogue with coach [Bill] Belichick and the Patriots’ medical staff, and Rob and his family. Everybody’s on the same page, except it’s gotten a lot of play in the media and all these unsubstantiated sources.”
After practice Thursday, Gronkowski reiterated that he is still improving, and that his status remains “day to day.” And when asked whether he would be playing now if the decision were solely up to him, he didn’t say yes.
“Ah, I wouldn’t say that because I mean, I … you’ve got to go through the process of asking the doctors and everything, so I’m not just going to make a decision by myself,” said Gronkowski. “That’s why you have a whole organization, to work together.
“Obviously I want to be out there.”
Gronkowski also was asked about the process of being checked each week — when and how it happens — but he deferred and said Belichick should be asked that question instead.
The Gronkowski story has hung over the Patriots all season, with almost weekly reports coming from somewhere that the two-time Pro Bowler would be playing in that week’s game. That has yet to happen. Gronkowski was listed as doubtful for the first two games, and has been questionable for the last four.
Gronkowski had four surgical procedures on his forearm — which he initially broke last November, then broke again in the playoff opener — and another on his back during the offseason.
Some reports have said that teammates are starting to question why Gronkowski has not returned for games. Rosenhaus said the answer is simple.
“It’s really straightforward: When Rob is cleared, he’ll play,” Rosenhaus said. “It shouldn’t be a big surprise to people that the guy has a very cautious approach right now, because he had four operations on that forearm and he had a back operation.
“Quite frankly, it’s not a huge upset that up to this point he hasn’t been cleared to play in a game. We anticipated this.
“Hopefully he’ll be back soon, maybe even this weekend, but there’s no way to know until the end of the week when his doctors make that determination.”