When he faced reporters Friday, Rob Gronkowski greeted them with an "Hola!"
Fear not, though – Gronkowski knows he and his teammates aren't in Mexico anymore.
In fact, he and QB Tom Brady, both of whom missed practice two days ago, sounded fully recharged after an unusual past couple of weeks that included a 10-day road trip and the Thanksgiving holiday.
Brady sat out Wednesday's workout with an Achilles heel issue, while Gronkowski came down with an unspecified illness. Both co-captains took part in Thanksgiving Day practice on a limited basis and were back on the field again Friday. Afterward, they declared themselves fit for action this Sunday at Gillette Stadium versus the Miami Dolphins.
"Nothing to worry about," Brady smiled when the subject came up. "I feel great. Excited for Sunday. Felt good to get a little extra treatment. Feeling great this time of year."
"I'm good," declared Gronkowski. "Just a little illness that went by quick. Thankful for that. I'm good to go."
He maintained that his condition had nothing, he believes, to do with the high altitudes of Colorado and Mexico, where the Patriots spent 10 days before returning home to Foxborough this past Monday morning. In fact, both Gronk and Brady say they and their teammates have fallen back into their normal work schedules and, at 8-2, are focused as a team on finishing off the regular season strong.
"[Thanksgiving] was good," Gronkowski continued. "Everything went well. We had a good day yesterday at practice. We got off a little earlier than normal, but overall it was a good day of practice and relaxation. Back at it today.
"Being on the road for 10 days definitely changed up the routine, it does take a little toll, but I feel like we've caught up. I've caught up, got some sleep, had a little more rest yesterday, being that it was a shorter day. Just feeling good now. We had a good practice today. Everyone was in synch."
"There's just a lot of energy output when you travel and play on the road," Brady observed, "and we stayed there in a lot of new surroundings. You get back here, and Monday and Tuesday was what it was, still getting mentally prepared. [Thanksgiving] was yesterday, and I think the next 48 hours are really important. Everyone has to embrace that we've done in practice… still more film to study, more rest to get, but it's all aiming for Sunday at 1.
"We're in a decent place and hopefully can take advantage of the time we have to get either rest or more prepared… There's probably a lot of teams at this point that let distractions get the best of them. You know, 'Oh, it's a long trip,' or 'Oh, we're tired,' 'It's Thanksgiving.' 'There's some excuse why we don't play our best or we're not focused.'
"We have to stay focused," added Brady. "All the veteran players who've been here have to show a lot of leadership to the younger players, because it does get challenging. It's a marathon, but you can't stop."
"Definitely after Thanksgiving," Gronkowski concluded, "there's a saying around here, is when football really starts. You see teams going downhill or uphill after Thanksgiving. We have to put our foot on the gas pedal just like we've been the last couple of weeks."