Rob Gronkowski back and looking strong on Day 1 of camp
There were a lot of big questions with the beginning of training camp today for the New England Patriots but a couple ones that flew under the radar. That doesn’t mean they were any less important. In fact, one off-season story getting very little talk was arguably one of the biggest deals coming into training camp and was the big thing I was looking for coming into training camp today.
What was Rob Gronkowski going to look like?
Now, I am not talking whether or not he would look handsome or whether or not he would show up at practice without a shirt on or anything, nothing along those lines. I was concerned about that ankle. Yes, the thing we all sort of forgot about but we kept in the back of our minds all off-season while Gronk was appearing in videos and images of him partying and being Gronk.
Remember the ankle injury? The one he suffered at the hands of Bernard Pollard in the AFC championship game where it looked like it was broken and he would be done for a long time? The same ankle that he had to get drugged up on pain medications on for the Super Bowl and if he was healthy, maybe, just maybe, he catches that Hail Mary at the end of the game and the Patriots pull off the greatest play in Super Bowl history?
Yeah, everyone seemed to forget about it even as he was showing up to events in a walking boot post-surgery, spiking fruits and trophies on Sportsnation and partying and drinking while still in the rehab stage of his recovery. It’s all fun and games while Rob Gronkowski is beer-bonging from a two story beer bong and a picture shows up on Deadspin. It’s another thing when that affects his recovery from a pretty bad ankle injury.
So I was walking Gronk today, watching and making sure he could do the things that we all know Gronk could do. Making sure he could spin in the seam and catch a pass, seeing that he had the movement of a receiver with the size of a line-backer, checking whether or not there was lingering issues with the ankle surgery.
My answer? I had nothing to fear.
I should have known right from the start when he came out with zero braces or ankle protectors on either of his ankles. Either Gronk was doing fine or it was Gronk being meathead Gronk and saying “Gronk need no ankle brace! Gronk catch ball! Gronk spike ball! Gronk sleep with big breasted lady friend!” You know, normal Gronk fare.
But it looked like his ankle was fine. In individual drills he was getting up and over the bags with the same speed you would expect Gronk to. When they ran pass skeleton, Gronkowski ran his routes hard with a couple of hard cuts and one time where he had to do a full 180 spin back towards the ball, begin a back pedal, and then turn and burn up the field after making the catch. With all the stress on his surgically repaired and unprotected ankle, there was reason to expect he worst, but Rob Gronkowski certainly looked fine on the first day of practice.
Which is a good thing. There is a growing thought in New England that outside of Tom Brady, it is no longer Wes Welker but Gronkowski that is the most important player on the Patriots’ offense. He is a match-up nightmare all over the field and on a football team that stresses versatility on both sides of the ball, he is one of the Patriots’ most versatile weapons.
Fear not Patriots’ fans! Gronk looks good and if all goes well I expect him to be Gronk spiking all over the country come week 1.