FOXBOROUGH — Rob Gronkowski doesn’t care about your fantasy team.
The big Patriots tight end, who has been hampered by a hamstring injury, has only 11 receiving yards a quarter of the way through the season. Gronkowski missed the first two games entirely and has played a limited role, mostly as a blocker, since then.
Angry fantasy owners who drafted Gronkowski expecting big returns have noticed.
“Man, I know,” Gronkowski said. “I can’t even go to the grocery store without getting yelled at. But I’m like, ‘Why did you draft me then, baby?’ ”
Gronkowski said his hamstring continues to get better but acknowledged that he hasn’t been his full self. He played 14 snaps against the Texans in Week 3 before increasing that number to 39 against the Bills last Sunday.
“Obviously, it’s holding me back,” Gronkowski said. “I missed the first two games, didn’t play that much the third one, and played more the fourth one, so I’ve been progressing every single week, every single day, and hopefully this week now it’s go time.”
He went out as a route runner just twice against Buffalo, both in desperate times in the fourth quarter. Gronkowski has yet to run a route down the seam or anything that would leave him exposed to multiple defenders in the middle of the field.
Gronkowski said it’s important for him to “take it slowly to make sure I’m coming back strong” but he didn’t rule out increasing his involvement in the passing game this week.
“Whatever Coach is having me do, I’m going to be doing, so I can change this week,” he said. “If they want me to go out on more routes, I’m down to go out on more routes, whatever.”
The Patriots could have been saving Gronkowski not only because of his injury but because playing with novice quarterbacks puts him at greater risk downfield. With Tom Brady back under center, the situations in which he is used could change.
Still, Gronkowski said, it’s undeniable that the injury, at least initially, affected his explosiveness.
“When you get injured, you kind of start back from day zero,” he said.
The one problem? Until Wednesday, Scruggs didn’t have a key card and was locked out of the team facilities.
“I’m usually here a lot earlier than people, so I kind of had to sit at the front, wait, wait for somebody to come let me in,” Scruggs said. “I think it was Sebastian [Vollmer], he came and let me through the door.”
Scruggs, who had a pen clipped to his shirt, said he didn’t leave Gillette Stadium Tuesday night until around “9:20, in the middle of the vice presidential debate.”
Scruggs is a converted defensive lineman who made the switch to tight end this summer in Chicago, and he has only worked out at tight end for the Patriots.
“If I make the move to defense, I’m going to request a workout there first, make sure I’ve still got it,” Scruggs joked.
Scruggs was involved in a scuffle between the Patriots and Bears during their joint training camp practices this summer, but said none of his new teammates have given him a hard time about it.
“Incident in training camp?” he said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Pryor got away
Terrelle Pryor, the former quarterback who has become the top receiver for the Browns, is the one who got away for many NFL teams.
Pryor was a free agent from Sept. 15 of last year, when he was cut by the Browns, until Cleveland brought him back in December. During that time, the Patriots were one of the teams he worked out for and, according to Pryor, seemed interested.
“I really thought I was going to be a Patriot,’’ Pryor told Cleveland.com. “I know Bill Belichick really liked me. I had a great workout for them and everything went really well. I really thought he was going to sign me.”
The Patriots had already tried to trade for Pryor before he got cut in 2015, NESN reported, and Pryor said concern over a hamstring issue was the deal breaker once he was a free agent. Former Patriots coaching assistant Michael Lombardi said on Bill Simmons’s podcast that the team “blew it” not signing Pryor.
“The league often gives you a chance to be great, and if you don’t take advantage of it, it’s your own fault, and that was one of those times we didn’t take advantage of it in New England, clearly,” Lombardi said.
Two days after Pryor’s workout, the Patriots traded for Keshawn Martin, who was cut at the end of training camp this year.
Belichick would not admit to any regret over Pryor.
“We’ve worked out probably a couple thousand players here,” said Belichick. “Maybe more, I don’t know, but we work out a lot of players.
“I mean, every workout, anybody we evaluate, everybody we work out is to find out more about them, to learn about that player, to learn about his situation at that point of time. Sometimes our situation changes, sometimes it doesn’t.”
A warm-up for return
Brady was officially back in practice Wednesday for the first time since his suspension ended, throwing passes to staff members as a warm-up. Brandon Bolden (knee), Vincent Valentine (back), and Shea McClellin (concussion) were the only players absent at practice. Jimmy Garoppolo also was throwing and tossed a few deep balls to staffers, but Jacoby Brissett did not throw during the portion of practice open to media . . . Rob Ninkovich returned to practice Wednesday. The defensive end was spotted in the locker room but declined to speak to reporters . . . The Patriots signed offensive lineman Chase Farris to the practice squad and released linebacker Quentin Gause from the squad . . . Boston College will recognize former Eagles Brian Flores, now the Patriots linebackers coach, and former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, as well as Steve DeOssie and Gerard Phelan, who are with the Atlantic Coast Conference Legends Tour, during its Friday night game against Clemson.