FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said his absence from the team's joint practices and exhibition game against the Washington Redskins last week is not a reason to be concerned about his surgically repaired right knee.
"Improving every single week so far," Gronkowski said after returning to Sunday's full-pads practice. "No setbacks or anything like that. Going out there and feeling better every single time I'm out there on the field."
While the rest of the team endured hot, physical practices with Washington in Virginia, Gronkowski used the time back in Foxborough to listen to trainers, work out, and rest his knee and body.
"Basically went hard during the practices and all last week, so a little time off to let the knee heal a little bit more," Gronkowski said. "Can't always be grinding on it 24/7, when you are coming off an injury. You got to let it heal, so no setbacks, improving every single week. Feeling better since the time off so it's going well.
"You guys know how when you got something you can't just keep going on it. You got to let it heal. You got to let your body rest."
Gronkowski is still not cleared for contact. Even though there is no timetable in place, he said his full-speed mentality in the parts of practice he is participating in will have him prepared for when he is cleared for contact drills.
"I'm not out here running routes or anything at 80 percent as you can see. I'm just running out there going full speed in the drills, but they are just limiting drills I can do from the contact," Gronkowski said. "When I can start getting contact, I will ease into it a little bit, but most likely when I get cleared to do contact, it will be full go, too."
Gronkowski runs individual drills at full speed, although he has yet to be a part of team drills or contact. So the looming question is whether Gronkowski will be ready for Week 1 of the season, but he is trying not to think about it.
"That's a while away -- Week 1 -- about a month away," Gronkowski said. "So right now just making sure I take one step at a time. Can't think ahead; just got to do what I do right now so that when the time comes I'm ready to go."