Tight end Rob Gronowski participated in his first pull-pads practice on Sunday. The New England Patriots player underwent multiple surgeries on his left forearm and one surgery on his back during the offseason.
Gronkowski likely won't see any playing time during the regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills on September 8. He is also likely to miss the teams home opener against the New York Jets the following Thursday. However, showing up on the field with full-pads is a welcomed change for Patriots fans who weren't sure when Gronkowski would return to the field of action.
With full-pads on the field it's likely Gronkowski will begin to move from a rehab-specific focus to a football-specific focus.
During reporter witnessed drills Gronkowski ran the width of the field several time and worked on agility by stepping over bags while keeping his eyes up to catch the ball. He also participated in blocking drills focused on his stance while hitting a blocking pad held by a coach.
After practice Rob Gronkowski told reporters he would speak to them later in the week.
Gronkowski worked with fellow tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Zach Sudfeld.
Hoomanawanui took some time after practice to comment on his teammate's progress:
"Gronk is obviously a big part of our team. He is a great football player. He's a great guy to be around. There are no real highs and lows with Rob; all the stuff he's gone through you would kind of think it would be human nature to see that. He's taken his punches and he always seems to stay up high. To see that, and be around, I think it lifts everyone else's spirits, too. It's something I admire about him, not only as a football player but as a person."Gronkowski was added to the teams 53-man active roster before Saturday's deadline. Had Gronk spent the entire pre-season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, he would have been made ineligible to play or practice for the first six weeks of the regular season.