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Gronkowski: No setbacks, improving

Posted Sep 4, 2013

The tight end makes his first public comments since returning to Patriots practice.

As promised, Rob Gronkowski entertained reporters’ questions at his locker inside Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. He spent several minutes answering queries mostly about his health, as you might expect.

“Improving a lot,” Gronkowski maintained. “I've been improving since last week, I've been improving since three weeks ago. The only thing I can ask out of myself, the coaches ask out of me, the trainers ask out of me, is just to take it every day at a time and just to improve every day.”

Asked if he’s suffered any setbacks since his return to the field, the player emphatically responded, “Nope.”

He refused, however, to hazard a guess as to what percentage he is, health-wise, but conventional wisdom would suggest that he’s not yet at 100-percent.

“I don't really think about percentages like that, where my body's at. The only thing I'm focused on is improving every day. And if I'm improving every day and I'm moving in the right direction, then that's all you can ask for, moving in the right direction at all times.”

The most important question of all, though, was eventually asked.

“Do I expect to play on Sunday?” Gronkowski said. “I'm preparing every single day to the max of my ability and preparing every day to do the best I can. When my number is called, that's when I'll play.”

However, with the signing this week of Maine native Matthew Mulligan, a veteran known mostly for his blocking abilities, Gronk’s chances of suiting up against Buffalo on Sunday appear less than likely.

Tom Brady: Teacher

Another Patriots superstar spoke with reporters on the first official day of Bills Week. When QB Tom Brady stepped to the podium inside the brand new media work room at Gillette, he remarked with a smile, “This is cushy, huh?”

Later, he was asked about what it’s like for a player with his experience to have so many new and mostly young receivers on the roster. Brady began his answer by cautioning that he’s “not the most patient guy to begin with,” but that he’s working on that character flaw in hopes of trying to help the coaching staff develop this green group of pass catchers.

“You understand that there is a learning curve and there are things that are going to come up that some guys haven’t experienced. ... I think that’s part of what I tried to do this offseason. There are a lot of things I’ve done this year that I’ve never done in the past, so it’s been new for me, in terms of the learning, the meetings, the extra time spent. It’s a different situation that we’ve been in here, so there’s a ‘new-ness’ to that. There is a ‘new-ness’ in the teaching and the learning and the work we’ve done over the course of the years.”

There’s been some frustration, he conceded, with the young players, who don’t always learn the lessons he’s trying to teach as quickly as he’d like.

“Sometimes it’s what I do with my 3-year-old, too, and he doesn’t listen either,” Brady joked. “You try to just hang in there.”

Though wide receiver Danny Amendola is an experienced veteran, he acknowledged that even he is new to the Patriots offense this year. When told of Brady’s 3-year-old analogy, the receiver didn’t miss a beat.

“Hopefully I'm more like a six-year old,” he said with a grin. “It's all about getting on the same page. These young guys have a lot to learn in terms of the whole NFL project. They've picked up a lot of things very quickly. The older guys in our room are kind of passing along all the knowledge we have.”

For his part, Amendola – the team’s biggest free agent signing of the offseason – is anxious to face the Bills Sunday afternoon in Buffalo with the new-look Patriots offense.

“I'm sick of talking about it,” he said Wednesday. “I just want to go play.”