Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been “cleared to play.”
That was the short, sweet and easily biggest news to come out of Bill Belichick’s morning pre-training camp press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.
Rehabbing his way back from a torn ACL suffered last Dec. 8 against the Browns, Gronkowski did not take part on the field in New England’s spring OTAs and mini-camp, instead working with the team’s medical staff.
But he reported to Foxborough earlier this week with other injured players, rookies and quarterbacks and was cleared to return to the field. Therefore, PUP (physically unable to perform) is not an option either during the summer or the regular season.
Gronkowski has been hugely productive when healthy, but his health is still a concern heading into the 2014 season. He reportedly had surgery on Jan. 9 to reconstruct a torn ACL. It typically takes a full year to recover, though Adrian Peterson and Robert Griffin III have made quicker returns (with varying success). Given the news, Gronkowski is tentatively expected to be ready for the start of the season, and his return would be a big boost to Tom Brady and the entire New England offense. Don't expect him to practice fully right away, but it looks like Week 1 is a realistic possibility.