FOXBOROUGH — Patriots coach Bill Belichick responded testily Tuesday to queries about the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has spent training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list while recovering from back surgery.
On Monday, Gronkowski worked out with the Patriots strength and conditioning staff on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium along with cornerback Ras-I Dowling, wide receiver Mark Harrison, and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham.
“He’s been out here every day, he’s been in camp the whole [time], he hasn’t missed a day in camp,’’ said Belichick, responding to a question about how Gronkowski looked after he appeared to run hard during Monday’s workout in a short-cone drill while making several catches.
“He was here the first day in camp. He’s been doing the same thing every day.’’
While Belichick insisted that nothing had changed with regard to Gronkowski’s regimen, the tight end did conduct a workout in full view of the media for the first time in training camp.
“The same thing every day,’’ Belichick said. “For those of us who have been here, he’s been doing the same thing every day.’’
Belichick did not say whether this represented any progress on Gronkowski’s part.
The coach’s testy exchange followed questions about the decision-making involved in holding a spot open on the roster for a player who might not be available for three or four weeks. The Patriots got the roster down to 75 Tuesday and must get to 53 before Saturday’s 6 p.m. league-mandated deadline.
“Every decision we make on a player comes down to two things,’’ Belichick said. “What’s best for the player and what’s best for the team. When they’re the same, it’s easy. When they’re not, then something has to give and you have to make a call one way or another.
“That’s the way it is with everything.”
In Gronkowski’s case, if the team were to transfer him to the reserve/PUP list, he would not be eligible to return to the active roster for six weeks, meaning he would not be eligible to begin practice until after Oct. 13 and not be available to play until the Oct. 20 road game vs. the New York Jets.
Asked if was difficult to hold a roster spot for a player who might not be ready for the first couple of weeks of the season, Belichick replied, “I think it’s just what I said it was: Each situation is independent. It depends on the situation and it depends on what your other options are, what the injury is, how long you’re talking about, what the expectations are, what kind of depth we have at that position. You could go on and on.’’
Gronkowski was the only player on the active roster not in uniform during the media-access window of Tuesday’s practice, and he was not spotted going through rehab work on a side field.
The Patriots were in full pads as they went through their last full practice as a 75-man roster; on Wednesday, they’ll have a walkthrough, and Thursday night is the exhibition finale against the Giants.
Tom Brady was still wearing the hinged black brace on his left knee. Although Brady said last week that owner Robert Kraft wants him to wear the brace in practice (he’s only worn it in games since returning from his 2008 knee injury), it sounded as though he preferred to practice without it.
The Patriots released tight end Evan Landi and defensive lineman Anthony Rashad to get to the 75-man roster limit.
Landi is a rookie free agent out of the University of South Florida who was signed Aug. 13; White, a rookie free agent out of Michigan State, was signed July 22.
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