INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski showed up at Super Bowl XLVI media day Tuesday without a walking boot on his sprained left ankle, but took a Belichickian approach to questions surrounding his availability for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
“I don’t know yet (if I’ll be able to play Sunday),” Gronkowski told a throng of reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium. "We’re going day by day. Making new steps every day, feeling better every day. That’s a positive sign and you just want to keep going in the right direction. I want to be out there with the team obviously. I want to help out the team obviously. Just taking it step by step, getting better every single day.”
Earlier this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick dubbed Gronkowski “day to day” as well.
Gronkowski said the walking boot was gone for good (“It’s off. No more boot.”) and said he would spend Tuesday’s non-practice day with trainers.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took Gronkowski losing the boot as a positive sign.
"Well he's obviously making progress, he's out of his boot today, which is making me feel better,” Brady said. “I told him to write ‘Hi Mom’ on his sock, because there will be a lot of pictures today. ... No one is as tough as him, he makes our offense go. Hopefully we have him out there."
Can Gronkowski imagine not playing in the Super Bowl?
“Yeah, but I’m not really worried about whether I’m playing or not yet,” Gronkowski said. “That’s on Sunday. The only thing I’m worried about is Tuesday, which is today, to get better today. Keep on improving today. Keep on getting stronger today, keep on progressing today. Just keep on moving forward, going in a positive direction. That’s what counts.”
The 22-year-old tight end hasn’t practiced since suffering a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game and wasn’t sure whether he would practice this week, either. When asked if he thought he could be effective against the Giants without having practice, Gronkowski said he trusted the team to do whatever was best.
“I’m not sure (if I could be effective without having practiced). That’s why I’m with the training staff,” Gronkowski said. “I trust in the organization here. I trust in the coaches. I trust in all the trainers to get me ready for whatever I gotta do. When Sunday comes along, they’ll have me at my best, where I need to be.”
Gronkowski called the high ankle sprain “nagging, sore” and added he didn’t “want to look back and say you didn’t try everything to get on the field.”
Gronkowski has dominated headlines at Super Bowl XLVI, in part because of his importance to the Patriots' offense. He totaled 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and a tight-end record 17 touchdowns in the regular season and at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds is a dominant presence in the red zone. He started all 16 games and seldom, if ever, comes off the field.
Considering the Patriots don't have a backup for Gronkowski on the roster and that they run more than 80 percent of their snaps with two or more tight ends on the field, it's no wonder his status is being monitored so closely.
All indications point to Gronkowski suiting up for the Super Bowl, the bigger question is how effective he will be and how much the Patriots will have to alter their game plan.
"There is a difference between hurt, sore and banged up,” Gronkowski said. "In the NFL you definitely have to play hurt."
Gronkowski also joked about his father revealing the nature of his injury to a New York television station, telling reporters to give his father a call if they wanted information.
"He'll give it up," Gronkowski said.