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Rob Gronkowski: I’m ready for an expanded role going forward

10.23.13 at 2:10 pm ET

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski admitted he was gassed at times in Sunday’s game against the Jets — his first contest of the season — but said that he has no problem with an increased workload going forward.

“Yes, definitely,” he said after practice on Wednesday. “Just whatever the coaches present that week, whatever the game plan is they have, we’ll follow along. It all starts off in practice, getting the reps down. Getting the plays down, getting the timing down so we can prepare to the best of our ability to be ready for Sunday.”

Gronkowski, who played 51 of a possible 79 snaps Sunday against New York, ended up catching eight passes (on 17 targets) for a team-high 114 yards.

“You always get the jitters, first game back and everything, [but] it’s just football now,” he said. “This is my fourth year and I just have to go out there and do what I have to do. Listen to the coaches. Listen to the players. And just practice to the best of my ability so I can be ready for Sunday.”

There were times where it appeared stamina was an issue, but said that’s the sort of thing that can be increased as the season rolls along.

“Just every week, back out on the practice field,” he said when asked about how to build back to complete football shape. “[I’m] just trying to improve my game. And by improving your game, it’s improving your conditioning. Improving your strength, improving your routes, improving your blocking. Every week, just going out there and working hard and working to the best of my ability to get to where I need to be for that Sunday.

“It’s part of football. You have to be out there, even if you’re gassed. But I definitely can work on it. That’s what practice is for.”

Gronkowski underwent multiple surgeries in the offseason on his left forearm, and was wearing a sizable black brace for protection. He said he utilized the brace before in practice, and added that he plans on wearing it going forward.

“I’ve got to get used to it,” he said. “Second nature — the brace is there and I’m used to it. So it’s cool.”

While Gronkowski said that he’s not interested in talking about the injury going forward — “All with the injury stuff and everything, I’m going to tell you guys now, that’s going to be all in the past, so I won’t be answering any more questions about that,” he said Wednesday — he is interested in discussing the rest of the year.

“The focus now is about the opponents coming up. The focus now is on the Miami Dolphins,” he said. “Division games are huge. They’re all huge. And this one is just as important as any other division game. They’re all very important. The Dolphins are a good team. We have to prepare ourselves to the best of our ability this week in practice to be ready come Sunday. It’ll be a big game.”

Ultimately, Gronkowski is just happy to be back in the routine that includes actual game preparation instead of rehab.

“It feels good — a normal week, just preparing,” he said. “Just concentrating on the Dolphins now all week and concentrate on what I have to do during practice and what I have to do to prepare with my teammates. It’s cool.”

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