FOXBOROUGH – He was running around, jumping, messing around with teammates, even tossing a football at times.
If he were doing it on a football field, it would have been even more impressive.
However, Rob Gronkowski exhibited no ill effects from his season-ending right knee injury (suffered six months ago) when he and several other members of the Patriots organization attended a Play 60 exercise event at a nearby grammar school Wednesday morning.
The New England Patriots, represented by Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and current players, participated in the NFL's first intergenerational PLAY 60 and PLAY 60+ school event on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
Gronk received by far the loudest applause when he was introduced to an enthusiastic, overflowing crowd of students, faculty, and invited guests at Foxborough's Igo Elementary, just a few minutes down the road from Gillette Stadium. The star tight end joined wide receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and a handful of other players, as well as team owner Robert Kraft, who made a sizeable monetary donation to the school to help build a new playground.
During a break in the action, Gronkowski spent a few minutes fielding questions from a gathering of media – mostly about his surgically repaired knee.
"It's coming along good. Just rehabbing, like, every day. Just improving every single week. That's all I can ask for," he responded.
The Patriots began their spring practice schedule with their first organized team activity (OTA) session on Tuesday, but media were not allowed to cover that particular one (the first opportunity for that will come on Friday). So, Gronk was asked if he was taking part in practice this week.
He paused for a moment before answering, "Just doing my own thing. Getting healthy on the side… I'm doing everything with the team that I can."
Gronkowski did confirm, however, that he has had no setbacks in his rehabilitation, in stark contrast to last offseason, when he was recovering from multiple arm surgeries and subsequent infections, as well as a back surgery.
"It's way different stuff [this year]," he added. "Just got to be patient, work hard, literally give it all I have. After this event, I'll be going right into [Gillette], work out with my teammates, work on rehab, go study up. All I can do is work hard every day and let the body heal. Hopefully, when it comes down to it, I'm ready to roll."
Kraft also spoke with reporters after the event and said that when he does his own "Play 60"-type exercising each day at the stadium, he always sees Gronk in the training room.
"He's been there and very diligent and working very hard. Now, we just hope it translates to the field."
When the subject came up with Edelman, he joked that he's neither a doctor nor a physical therapist, and that he didn't even take a biology class in college, so he probably wouldn't be able to provide a substantive answer on his good friend's condition.
"Gronk looks like Gronk to me," he smiled.
Gronkowski and his teammates were all wearing jeans and sneakers at the indoor event, and it didn't appear as if he was wearing any sort of medical apparatus underneath. Judging by the reaction of his fans, young and old, at Wednesday's function, especially when he took the microphone and addressed the crowd, Gronk's star continues to shine brightly in the Gillette Stadium orbit.
"I thought he spoke beautifully. He's such a well-intentioned guy. He's a lot of fun. I've never seen Gronk, in all the time with us, ever say or do anything that had a negative overtone. He's always up. When you're building a team atmosphere with people from different backgrounds and places and it's a physical game, having someone like Gronk in the system is uplifting…"
Kraft paused for effect before closing with, "especially if he's on the field all the time."