FOXBORO, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski is back to full strength, the New England Patriots tight end declared Tuesday.
Speaking after the Patriots’ first mandatory minicamp practice, Gronkowski said he is “100 percent” and “good to go” six months after undergoing back surgery.
Gronkowski, who played in just eight games last season and has undergone three procedures on his back since 2009, said he never doubted he’d make a full recovery.
“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. (I) love the challenge sometimes. It is what it was and now I’m good to go.”
Gronkowski was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice and was throughout organized team activities, as well. Contact is not allowed in these spring sessions, during which players wear helmets, practice jerseys and shorts.
It would behoove Gronkowski to be on the field as much as possible in 2017. He can earn up to $10.75 million this season under his newly restructured contract, but only if he meets certain playing time and production benchmarks.
“I’m definitely very thankful for the opportunity that the Patriots organization has given me,” Gronkowski said. “Just have to keep working hard, do what’s best for the team, and do what’s best for myself to help out the team in every way possible. …
“I’m always trying to perform, I always want to get better every single year. I want to get better every single week. I’m always motivated no matter what the circumstances are. I love playing the game.”
Gronkowski caught just 25 passes in limited action last season but racked up 540 receiving yards and hauled in three touchdown passes. He enters the summer in his usual perch atop the Patriots’ tight end depth chart, ahead of Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy, Matt Lengel, Jacob Hollister and Sam Cotton.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images