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Rob Gronkowski: ‘When my number is called, that’s when I’ll play’

09.04.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski speaks to reporters Wednesday about his chances of playing Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski speaks to reporters Wednesday about his chances of playing Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The question on everyone’s mind staking out the locker of Rob Gronkowski was fairly obviously. Is the perennial Pro Bowl tight end ready to play Sunday in the season opener if Bill Belichick activates him?

“Do I expect to play on Sunday? I’m preparing every single day to the max of my ability and preparing every day to best I can. When my number is called, that’s when I’ll play. I can’t tell you when that’ll be,” Gronkowski said.

Gronkowski has had four surgeries on his forearm and one on his back since the beginning of last November. The forearm appears to be fully healed but the back is more of an unknown.

Is it all about the back to Gronk right now?

“Just rehabbing everything,” he said. “I need the whole body strong and just have to keep on grinding and working all aspects of the body in order to get back out there. It’s not just the forearm and back, obviously. When you have to get conditioned again. You have to get stronger throughout your whole body, your legs, your upper body, your arms. So, that’s all in play, too. You can’t just jump out there because your arm is ready. You have to get your whole body ready and that’s what takes the hard work, the dedication, the conditioning and everything to get back out there. That all plays a factor.”

When will he be ready?

“When I’ll be ready? Right now, we just take it day-by-day,” Gronkowski said. “I’m improving a lot. Have been improving since last week and been improving since three weeks ago. The only thing I can ask out of myself, the coaches ask out of me, the trainers ask out of me is just to take every day [one] day at a time and just to improve every day, focus on that day to get better.

How close is he to 100 percent?

“I don’t really think about a percentage,” Gronkowski added. “I don’t really think about percentages as far as where my body is at. The only thing I’m really focused on is improving every day. If I’m improving every day, then I’m moving in the right direction. And that’s all you can ask for is moving in the right direction at all times and improving every day to get better.”

Gronkowski spent most of training camp doing agility drills and attending team meetings as he was on PUP. He was activated last Saturday and returned to the practice field on Sunday. Wednesday marked his second practice in full pads with the team this week.

“It’s just fun being back out there,” he said. “Putting the pads on, just having them on makes me happy again. I love this game. I definitely miss the game of football, going out there and practicing with my teammates. I miss doing the grind with my teammates, miss being out there with my coaches and everything. It’s just awesome being back out there and with the team and focused on getting things done.

“Making progress every week and getting out there is another step forward. Just have to take positive steps forward and keep re-evaluate where I am.”

Gronkowski admitted this spring and summer of rehab has been unlike anything he’s every had to endure as an NFL player.

“It was difficult but I’m past that all,” he said. “Today is a new day and the only thing I can do is look forward. I’m not thinking about the past anymore. That’s all in the past. The only thing I can do now is improve on getting back out there.

“Just been progressing every day, moving forward. That’s what I plan on doing every day, taking every step.”

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl
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