Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski expects his wait to get back on the field to end soon after practicing Thursday and Friday.
Gronkowski injured his ribs and a lung in Week 3 before a brief return in Week 8, which led to back spasms and another 2 1/2 missed weeks.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” Gronkowski told the media on Friday. “I just had two good practices under my belt and that’s a big step right there. That’s the first crucial step is having some practices under my belt and making sure I feel good after them. It’s going well and the arrow is pointing up toward playing. Hopefully, it does go right and I’m out there Monday night.”
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians likewise used the “arrow is pointing up” to describe Gronkowski’s progress.
“He looks better and better,” Arians told the media on Friday.
Gronkowski ]injured his ribs and punctured a lung in a Week 3 game at Los Angeles. He sat out the next four games before a short-lived comeback attempt in Week 8.
“There are definitely difficult situations when you’re coming back from an injury,” Gronkowski said. “You have to make sure you’re doing the right thing and everything and make sure you’re improving every day.”
His return at New Orleans in Week 8 lasted briefly due to back spasms. Arians came away convinced Gronkowski rushed back too soon then.
“Gronk probably shouldn’t have played,” Arians said following the Oct. 31 loss. “But he kept begging to get in there and re-injured himself.”
Missing Gronk on Offense
Gronkowski had a strong start to the season with four touchdowns in the first two games, and the Bucs haven’t equaled that production among the other tight ends.
Cameron Brate has 14 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, and that score came against Washington in Week10. O.J. Howard had 13 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Gronkowski hopes he can spark the offense once he’s back on the field. He caught 16 passes for 184 yards in his previous appearances.
“I want to be out there and make some plays like I was at the beginning of the year, have some first downs, have some touchdowns,” Gronkowski told the media. “Just help out the offense throughout the game — that’s my goal. We’re taking it one step at a time.”
The Game Gronk Arguably Missed the Most
Gronkowski made no bones about it — he wanted to be in on Tom Brady’s Week 4 return to New England. The two played together for the Patriots from 2010 to 2018.
“It was definitely a bummer,” Gronkowski told the media. “It was away and it would have definitely been nice to play in it, but, unfortunately, we saw what happened the week before and it is what it is. That’s football when things happen like that.”
“All I was doing was cheering the guys on,” Gronkowski added. “I was screaming for them, and they went out there and got the ‘W’, which was nice.”
Gronkowski quickly shifted his focus back to the present and said it’s all about the New York Giants in a Monday night clash. He hopes to get back to “100 percent and ready to go” in order to play.