FOXBOROUGH — Rob Gronkowski sounded more like a weatherman than Tom Brady’s main man as he assessed the first day of the Patriots’ three-day minicamp Tuesday.
“It was rainy, it was windy, it was wet,’’ said Gronkowski, who forgot “cold” in his meteorological description — but it was that, too, as the temperature hovered around 48 degrees for the two-hour session.
“I mean, it’s all part of the game. Whatever the conditions are, you’ve got to go out there and compete and play.’’
Despite the March-like feel, Gronkowski looked free and easy during the noncontact practice, which was held in shorts and shells. The perennial Pro Bowl tight end said he has no limitations coming off back surgery, which cut short his 2016 campaign.
“I’m 100 percent, good to go,’’ said Gronkowski, who had an accidental collision with safety Patrick Chung on one of the first plays of the day, with neither coming away worse for the wear. “I feel great. My rehab went super well.’’
Asked how nice it was to be back with the club so quickly considering how last season ended, Gronkowski flashed that familiar smile.
“It’s great,” he said. “Just getting out here for OTAs, minicamp, and just being able [to participate] conditioning-wise, strength-wise, the weight room.
“Just being out on the field with my teammates, the players, just getting to get on the same page and just being able to play football, it’s good.’’
Gronkowski, who also missed time last season with a nagging hamstring injury that cropped up in summer camp, said getting back in the swing after an injury is good physically and mentally.
“It’s always important whenever I get a little setback like that happens to get back to where I need to be, and I feel like I am,’’ he said. “Being out here competing, it’s fun.’’
Gronkowski, who was limited to eight games and 25 catches last season, said there was no question in his mind that he’d return to good health.
“No, definitely no doubts,’’ he said. “I just know that all the hard work you put in is what you’re going to get out of it. I love to put in the work, love the challenge sometimes.”
It is in the tight end’s best interest to be good to go from the start this season, as his restructured deal for 2017 is based on performances.
The 28-year-old is set to make $5 million but could earn an additional $5.5 million, $3.1 million, or $1 million if he meets certain incentives that are largely tied into playing time.
“I’m definitely very thankful for the opportunity that the Patriots organization has given me,’’ said Gronkowski, who looks forward to his eighth NFL season. “I just have to keep working hard and do what’s best for the team.”
Asked his perspective on the structure of the reworked deal, Gronkowski said it wouldn’t change his approach to the game.
“I’m always trying to perform. I’m always trying to get better every year and every single week,’’ said Gronkowski, a four-time Pro Bowler with 68 career touchdown catches. “I’m always motivated no matter what the circumstances are. I’m always motivated just to get better as a football player because I love playing.’’
Last season, the plan was for Gronkowski to team with Martellus Bennett to form a formidable 1-2 tight end punch. It never really materialized because of Gronkowski’s injuries. This year, another veteran, Dwayne Allen, was brought in as the backup, and Gronkowski is excited about the possibilities.
“He’s a great dude. I love working with him,’’ Gronkowski said. “When I first got to meet him, we started working out together here, and just being out on the field, he just wants to get better. He wants to listen and get coached.
“It’s awesome having a guy like that right next to you trying to help you out to get better too. He’s an awesome player and an awesome guy to be with.’’
Gronkowski has taken notice of the explosive additions to the offense — including receiver Brandin Cooks and running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead — but said the focus remains the same.
“Personally, I don’t look at how good we are on paper,’’ he said. “We have to step out on the field and practice hard every day.’’
That’ll be at least two more times this week.
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org