Sighs of relief as Gronkowski returns to Patriots practice

There was a Rob Gronkowski sighting on Saturday, and the sighs of relief are beginning to be heard around New England.

Gronkowski returned to practice on Saturday, but is still said to be in concussion protocol. But, barring any setbacks, this appearance is seen as a major step forward after he missed the team’s previous two practices.

Reportedly he did stretching, jogging and caught a couple of passes during the beginning portion of practice open to the media. Practice was in full pads.

“It’s always great to have him out there,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “He’s a great player, great person great teammate and a big part of what we do. So it obviously hurts when he’s not out there for a lot of reasons, but he’s doing the best he can do and we’re all hopeful.”

Brady said Gronkowski’s presence can lift the team’s spirits. The Patriots have one more practice Sunday before leaving on Monday for Minneapolis and Super Bowl LII.

“I think he’s got a great personality and a great way about him,” Brady said, “so he definitely has a joyfulness to him and he brings that to the team. It’s just a great attribute of his. It always has been since he got here.”

Incidentally, the Patriots practice report two days ago (Friday) had a game designation if the Super Bowl were to be played Sunday (this current weekend), and Gronkowski was listed as “Out”.

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Brady, in his first press conference since the first 15 minute segment of his “Tom vs. Time” documentary was released, raised some eyebrows by basically refusing to talk about it on Saturday. And it’s likely he won’t during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

“Yeah, we’ll stick to football this week, too,” Brady said. “So I like that no distrctions part. Thank you.”

Brady said that there’s a lot of time between now and the actual game and the Patriots need to be organized.

“It’s going to come down to who plays the best, and that starts with being who’s the most prepared,” he said. “It’s a lot of time to prepare still. I think we should use that time wisely, and obviously with a lot of things, you’ve got to plan and family and logistics and parties and all that stuff – getting everyone what they need just so we can make sure we go out and do the job we need to do.”

Brady, incidentally, reportedly practiced with no glove on his previously injured throwing hand, but did wear the black tape that he wore during the AFC Championship Game.

This may be his eighth Super Bowl, he said, but it never gets old.

“I mean, this is exciting for me, too,” he said. “So, I’ve never taken anything like this for granted, and I think we’re all very fortunate to be in this game.”

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Another Patriot who had been out with a concussion, rookie defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, was also back at practice…

The Patriots are scheduled to practice for the final time at the Gillette complex on Sunday…

Monday’s send-off rally is set to begin at approximately 9 a.m.at the NRG Plaza outside the stadium and the team is looking to depart at around 10:30 a.m.for Super Bowl LII.