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Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski on return: ‘I’m going to go full speed’

Tight end Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots carries the ball as strong safety Duke Ihenacho #33 of the Denver Broncos defends during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots carries the ball as strong safety Duke Ihenacho #33 of the Denver Broncos defends during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Days after being cleared by doctors to play, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has participated in individual drills over the last couple days. Although the big tight end has been progressing well from a torn ACL suffered on December 8, he is not quite ready to let it all hang out on the practice field. On Friday, Gronkowski told reporters after the team’s second training camp practice that he is not “100 percent.”

Gronkowski didn’t give a timetable on when he expects to be 100 percent and fully participate in team drills, but he did address his commitment to getting to where he wants to be. He said, “If it was 100 percent, I’d be doing every single little things. So, no, I’m not 100 percent, I’m working every single day to get to that.”

A welcomed site for Patriots coaches and fans is seeing Gronkowski working individually with quarterback Tom Brady after practice. The tight end is definitely excited to take reps and work with the future Hall of Fame quarterback once again, but his health remains the focus and getting his knee back to full strength is the ultimate goal. Gronkowski does plan to be dressed and ready to go when the team holds its first full-pads practice Saturday.

“For the last six months, I worked my butt off to be here. Cutting on it, making it stronger, I’m here and I’m ready,” said Gronkowski. “Running routes, being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady, it’s a dream come true again. Feels like it got taken away, and I feel like I got it back.”

The amount of excitement Gronkowski has shown during his recovery process and over the last few days is good to see, but there is also a hesitation because of his injury history and the physical abuse he takes during games. Unlike last year at this time, the Patriots tight end appears to be on the same page as the team. He has committed himself to getting back to full strength and being available to the team for a full 16-game schedule.

The Patriots offense will certainly benefit from a healthy Rob Gronkowski, but his time around, the team is putting it all on Gronkowski. So far, he is taking accountability and has dedicated himself to returning to the dominant playmaker he is when fully healthy. He said, “I’m going to go full speed, and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing everything I do.” Those words are definitely good to hear.