The season is just days away and the Patriots received the news they were hoping for: All-everything tight end Rob Gronkowski, who underwent surgery on a torn right ACL on Jan. 9, has been cleared to play against the Dolphins this Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Super excited, super pumped," Gronk admitted on Monday. "I feel mentally and physically ready, for sure. No doubt about it. My mentality now is 'I'm ready to go, I'm ready to be out there, I'm ready to hit, I'm ready to start going.'"
A year ago at this time, Gronkowski was recovering from a forearm injury and he didn't see the field until Week 7 and he didn't play every snap until Week 12. Expect the Patriots to bring him along slowly this time around, too.
"Definitely not [playing] every single snap, but just get out there, get my feet wet, whatever coaches have, whatever we game-plan this week will be good," he said.
Gronk injured his knee in an early December game against the Browns when then-Cleveland safety T.J. Ward went low after the tight end caught a pass downfield. But now, eight months later, Gronkowski is ready to go.
"It feels good to be out here now this week, preparing for the Dolphins, knowing that I put myself in the best situation the last few weeks and few months to get back out here," the said. "That was my plan the whole time -- to work as hard as I could so I'd be ready for this week."
The Dolphins, meanwhile, aren't surprised to see Gronkowski's name on the 53-man roster this early in the season.
"We were fully prepared," Miami coach Joe Philbin said. "We saw he was on the 53-man roster so we have to be prepared for every combination. He's an excellent player. He's been very productive throughout his career. So we will have a good plan in place. ... We will be ready for him, for sure."