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Rob Gronkowski on catching passes from Tom Brady: ‘It’s a dream come true again’ 07.25.14 at 5:48 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski (87) is ready to be there for Tom Brady again in 2014. (AP)

Rob Gronkowski (87) is ready to be there for Tom Brady again in 2014. (AP)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has been through a lot of pain and misery over the last three seasons. Bum ankle, back surgery, forearm surgery, ACL surgery.

And those are just the major injuries the most popular target of Tom Brady has endured. That’s why he’s taking his time and being measured about his rehab, working closely with Patriots trainers to make sure that he’s a full go when he returns to game action, either in the preseason or – as he hopes – by the Sept. 7 opener in Miami.

But while he can’t take part in full 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as training camp opens, he can run individual drills and work on his routes, especially where he’s most dangerous – in the red zone. Gronkowski has been running – and cutting – on the surgically repaired right knee without any noticeable limp, a good sign as he works his way back. He did it again on Friday, catching several red zone passes from Brady, as Bill Belichick looked on.

“It’€™s feeling good out there running routes and getting balls thrown [to me], and it feels great being out there with my teammates again, being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady. It’€™s a dream come true again. It feels like it got taken away, and now it feels like I’€™ve got it back so it’€™s awesome.”

He even stood behind center and lobbed one to Brady.

“Yeah, we were just having fun,” Gronk said. “Maybe we’€™ll put that in after that throw. It wasn’€™t a spiral, but I’€™ve got to work on that.”

Gronkowski not only is sporting a black sleeve/brace on his right knee, he is still wearing a protective sleeve on his left forearm.

“I’€™m used to the arm brace,” Gronkowski said. “It’€™s been a year now wearing that, so it’€™s secondhand having that on. The knee brace just started, but it’€™s the second day out there, and I’€™m already getting comfortable with everything.”

After what’s he went through with the forearm going into the 2013 season, it’s natural to think Gronkowski will be more cautious. There have even been suggestions that the team (i.e. Bill Belichick) is sending a loud message that by being cleared for practice, they expect him ready once the season starts in South Florida. Does Gronk sense this?

“No, I don’€™t feel any pressure at all about that,” Gronkowski said. “I worked my butt off the last six months to even be here right now at training camp, throwing with all of my teammates. I made sure I was in there every single day, rehabbing every single day so I could come out here and be running routes on Day One. So it feels great to be out here on that note.

“If I’€™m just working hard every single day, improving every single day, giving it all I’€™ve got, listening to the trainers, listening to the coaches to get myself prepared, to get myself ready ‘€“ that’€™s all I can ask for. I’€™m putting pressure on myself to improve every single day and work hard every single day.”

Gronkowski said it’s a realistic goal to be ready for Week 1 against the Dolphins.

“I’€™m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game,” he said. “I can’€™t say anything from here on out because it’€™s far away. So, every single day I’€™m just giving it all I’€™ve got in the rehab room, out here on the field, improve my knee, strengthen it all around, prepare myself, listen to my trainers what they have for me so I’€™m ready to go when it comes down to it. And hopefully I am.”

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl
Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on the ‘fearless’ Rob Gronkowski and potential greatness of Patriots secondary at 4:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news of the day from Day 2 of Patriots training camp 2014, including Rob Gronkowski speaking to reporters for the first time since being cleared for training camp practice. Gronkowski acknowledged that he is not 100 percent but promises to be fearless, adopting a “smashing and dashing” attitude when he is cleared for game action. Petraglia and Price also discuss the potential of the current Patriots’ secondary to rank among the best in team history and those coached by Bill Belichick.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Bill Belichick, Chris Price, Gronk
Rob Gronkowski says he’s ready to make a fearless return: ‘I’m going to keep smashing and dashing’ at 1:17 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski is pumped to be back on the practice field for training camp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski is pumped to be back on the practice field for training camp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The Gronk was back in rare form Friday.

Rob Gronkowski held court on a sunny Friday morning after his second practice of training camp, announcing that he plans to make a fearless return to the field this season and put a string of injuries behind him. The most recent, of course, came on Dec. 8, 2013 when T.J. Ward drilled him in the right knee, causing a tear of his ACL and a subsequent knee reconstruction.

Gronkowski said that, while he won’t likely participate fully when he puts on pads with the rest of his teammates Saturday, he will be prepared mentally for the first game, whenever that comes.

“I’m pretty sure I won’t have any fear at that moment because that’s what we’re working here for, getting myself right, getting my knee right, getting everything strengthened around it so when I do hit the field, when I do start hitting, when I do start getting tackled, I’m out there ready to go [and] I’m not thinking about that in the back of my head,” Gronkowski said. “It’s a slow progression. I’m just working every single week to get to that progression, and hopefully and it comes down to where I’m ready and I’m ready to roll and I’m good to go and I’m out there for my teammates. I want to be out there for my teammates and give it all I got and make some plays for them.”

As for being at full strength, Gronkowski cautioned that there is still plenty of work remaining before that hurdle is cleared.

“If it were 100 percent, I’d be doing every single thing so no, I’m not 100 percent right now, obviously not,” Gronkowski said. “I’m working my way to get to that and I’m working every single day to get to that and improving every single day.

“I’m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game. I can’t really say anything from here on out because it’s far away. Every single day, I’m just giving it everything I’ve got in the rehab room and out here on the field. I’m preparing myself and listening to my trainers, what they have for me so that I’m ready to go when it comes down to it. Hopefully, I am.

“No timetable at all. Just keep improving every single day and we’ll see what the trainers want me to do. They’ve been through plenty of knee injuries throughout their years here.”

If you think he plans to change his style in light of ankle, back, forearm and knee injuries that have knocked him out of 17 of his last 26 games since 2012, think again.

“Nah, I ain’t changing that one bit,” Gronkowski said. “I’m going to go full speed when I’m out there and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing in everything I do. Maybe if it’s not necessary one single bit I’ll go down [to the ground]. But if I can make some plays and make some extra yards and get in the end zone, I’m definitely going to go full speed and do everything I can.”

Read More: 2014 training camp, Cleveland Browns, Gronk, New England Patriots
Tom Brady pumps up Kenbrell Thompkins and pumps the brakes on Rob Gronkowski 07.24.14 at 5:14 pm ET
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Tom Brady is focused on another productive season in 2014. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tom Brady is focused on another productive season in 2014. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady had his favorite target back on the field on Thursday for the first day of Patriots camp.

But Rob Gronkowski was limited to cutting drills and catching passes in the red zone from Brady. Gronkowski ran several short patterns alongside Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola but was just an observer during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In other words, it wasn’t the “Full Gronkowski.”

That didn’t disappoint Brady too much. As a matter of fact it reminded him of the need to rely on others in the passing game.

“We’re always try to bring it, regardless of who is out there,” Brady said. “If he’€™s not out there, then we still have to find a way to do it, and I think really that’€™s a lesson that we’€™ve learned. You’€™ve got to try to win, no matter who is out there. You’€™ve got to try to compete at a high level. When you have great players like that that are on the field, it helps you a lot. Your margin of error goes up.

“But you’€™ve got to prepare for both. We’€™ve had different times over the offseason where certain guys have been in there, certain guys haven’€™t, but I don’€™t think the expectations have changed. You’€™ve still got to go out and execute the play the best way you know how to and try to do it at a high level on a consistent basis.”

Still, with Gronk on the grass fields, there was a certain electricity in the air.

“The more guys we have out here healthy, the better we’€™re going to be,” Brady said. “Everyone is working with whatever situation they’€™re in. You could be coming off injury, [or] you could be coming off a good offseason. Everyone is starting at the same place. It’€™s the first opportunity to put shoulder pads on, and now the real physical aspect of the sport comes out. In the offseason, when it’€™s just shorts and t-shirts and you’€™re throwing the ball, it’€™s about a quarter of the game. So we’€™re going to see what we’€™re made of, and we’€™ve got a lot of big tests ahead.”

That first big test is this weekend when the team gets into full pads for the first time. Next up, are the full scrimmages with the Redskins down in Richmond, Virginia prior to the preseason opener Aug. 7 at FedEx Field.

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Gronk, Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots
Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and opening of Patriots camp at 4:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about Tom Brady‘s 15th NFL training camp as Patriots open camp with Rob Gronkowski active and on the practice field.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Gronk, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski
Tom Brady admits his own mortality: ‘This could be your last training camp, you never know’ at 3:36 pm ET
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Tom Brady starts the 2014 season still seeking that elusive fourth ring. (AP)

Tom Brady starts the 2014 season still seeking that elusive fourth ring. (AP)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady is on record as saying that he would like to play into his 40s.

But on the first day of his 15th NFL training camp, Brady discussed his own football mortality after his first practice of 2014 training camp.

“It goes pretty fast, so I just think you appreciate it,” Brady said, just a 10 days shy of his 37th birthday. “There are very few people who have the opportunity that I have, and I’€™m very appreciative of it. You never know when the last one is going to be, so you just appreciate the moments that you have. Every year, it’€™s something different. This could be your last training camp; you never know. So you’€™ve got to make it count, and you can’€™t take anything for granted in the NFL. I try to do the best I can for this team and hope it leads to a great year.”

Hoping for another “great” year, Brady was on the field working with the receiving corps that figures to be catching the bulk of passes from him this season, including Rob Gronkowski, who was limited to cuts and catching short end zone passes in red zone drills.

“It feels great. I’€™m excited to be out here with my teammates and working to get better,” Brady said. “It’€™s a long training camp. I think we’€™ve got to string a lot of good days together to be the team that we want to be. It’€™s just going to be a lot of effort, a lot of work. There’€™s no easy way about it. You’€™ve just got to grind, put the work in, listen to the coaches, try to make improvements, and hopefully when we start the season we’€™ll be a lot better of a team than we are now.”

Speaking of Gronkowski, Brady said he was pumped to see No. 87 on the field.

“The more guys we have out here healthy, the better we’€™re going to be,” he said. “Everyone is working with whatever situation they’€™re in. You could be coming off injury, [or] you could be coming off a good offseason. Everyone is starting at the same place. It’€™s the first opportunity to put shoulder pads on, and now the real physical aspect of the sport comes out. In the offseason, when it’€™s just shorts and tee shirts and you’€™re throwing the ball, it’€™s about a quarter of the game. So we’€™re going to see what we’€™re made of, and we’€™ve got a lot of big tests ahead.

“We always try to bring it, regardless of who is out there. If he’€™s not out there, then we still have to find a way to do it, and I think really that’€™s a lesson that we’€™ve learned. You’€™ve got to try to win, no matter who is out there. You’€™ve got to try to compete at a high level. When you have great players like that that are on the field, it helps you a lot. Your margin of error goes up. But you’€™ve got to prepare for both. We’€™ve had different times over the offseason where certain guys have been in there, certain guys haven’€™t, but I don’€™t think the expectations have changed. You’€™ve still got to go out and execute the play the best way you know how to and try to do it at a high level on a consistent basis.”

Read More: 2014 training camp, Gronk, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski
Mike Petraglia, Chris Price preview Patriots camp Thursday, including return of Rob Gronkowski 07.23.14 at 2:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview the opening of training camp for the Patriots on Thursday outside Gillette Stadium. On Wednesday, head coach Bill Belichick announced that tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to practice with the Patriots as camp begins.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Chris Price, Gronk, Mike Petraglia
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