The return of the Gronk

I’m not even sure who Rob Gronkowski is anymore, what team he plays for, or if he plays any kind of organized sport at all. If he’s an injured player, I’m only giving credence to the diagnosis if it’s coming from Peyton Manning’s doctor, and he says something about his son.

But since it does seem like this Gronkowski fellow is of some importance to this weekend’s football contest, you should know that he did indeed practice today, albeit on a limited basis.

The latter half of that update shouldn’t matter much on a Thursday evening. Gronkowski appearing at all on a practice field is a massively important development due to the Patriots’ reliance on their tight ends to both stretch the field, and create space for Wes Welker, as our own Alen Dumonjic outlined earlier today.

Gronk is more than just a vital chunk of New England’s offensive production–he’s also an irreplaceable part of their offensive scheme. But please button up your raincoat, Patriots fans, because Bill Belichick would like to drench your erupting emotions in freezing water.

Belichick said that Gronkowski did some things today, but not everything, and what’s key now is seeing how his high-ankle injury responds after a tough test today. (Comments via Patriots pool reporter Alex Marvez.)

“It was good. It was fine. We’ll see where he is tomorrow — whether that set him back, whether it didn’t and whether he’s able to continue to progress on a daily basis. But it was a good test for him, too, at least. At least he was out here and did some things to see how it feels. We’ll see how it goes.”

We’ll still maintain what we’ve written pretty much every day so far this week, and we’ll keep writing it until we’re convinced otherwise, which likely won’t happen. Gronk will play, and he’ll make a contribution, but he likely won’t quite be the same scary bruiser he’s been all season.

On Monday as we dust ourselves off from a vicious Super Bowl hangover we’re going to look back at this week’s posts and see which name wins in overall mentions between Gronkowski or Gronk, and Peyton. Sadly, my money’s on Peyton, the first name of a player who wasn’t on the field for a single snap this season.

We’re sorry.

The full Thursday injury report is as follows:

Giants:

Limited in practice: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle, knee)

Practiced fully: WR Hakeem Nicks (shoulder), CB Corey Webster (hamstring), LB Jacquian Williams (foot)

Patriots:

Limited in practice: T Marcus Cannon (ankle), S Patrick Chung (knee), LB Dane Fletcher (thumb), TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle), DT Kyle Love (ankle), G Logan Mankins (knee), LB Rob Ninkovich (hip), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (illness, back, foot), WR Wes Welker (knee), LB Tracy White (abdomen)

Practiced fully: WR Deion Branch (knee), C Dan Connolly (groin), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), T Matt Light (illness), WR Matt Slater (shoulder)