Rob Gronkowski 'improving a lot'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, speaking for the first time publicly since his June back procedure, said Wednesday afternoon that he's improving every day but didn't specify when he'll be ready to return to game action.

"Right now, we just take it day by day and [I'm] improving a lot," he said. "I've been improving since last week, I've been improving since three weeks ago. The only thing I can ask out of myself, the coaches ask out of me, the trainers ask out of me, is just to take it every day at a time and just to improve every day."

Gronkowski's procedure took place roughly 10 weeks ago -- the average timetable for a recovery from that type of surgery -- though the 24-year-old said he isn't paying attention to the time it's been since the operation.

"It doesn't matter about what that says," Gronkowski said. "It just matters about how your body feels and how the rehab program is going and how you're progressing every day. I just look forward to every day and I'm not counting since when my surgery was."

Asked to assess where his body stands, Gronkowski deferred on assigning a percentage to his progress.

"I really don't have a percentage," he said. "I don't really think about percentages like that, where my body's at. The only thing I'm focused on is improving every day. And if I'm improving every day and I'm moving in the right direction, then that's all you can ask for, moving in the right direction at all times."

Gronkowski returned to the practice field Sunday, in time for the team's first practice of the regular season. He's been on the practice field each day since, including the team's full pads practice earlier Wednesday. He was listed as having limited participation in the first practice report pf the season Wednesday.

Gronkowski said there are no movements that he is wary of performing as he continues his rehab.

"No, that's the whole point of the rehab system," he noted, before later saying, "Obviously I'm doing way more things than I was six weeks ago and that's why it's a whole process of rehab."

While Gronkowski didn't want to discuss the emotions of going through a difficult offseason, he did concede that he's not where he would normally be from a physical standpoint.

"Do I feel physically prepared? I mean that's kind of an obvious answer," he said. "I couldn't really do what I usually do all offseason, but that's what this time is for right now, just progressing and working hard right now to the max of my ability."

He added that the process of building back up his strength extends beyond his injured forearm and back, as he also needs to get his full-body conditioning back up to the level it has been at in previous seasons.

While it remains unlikely that Gronkowski will play against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, he said that he's preparing every day to be ready whenever the team clears him medically to return.

"Do I expect to play on Sunday?" Gronkowski said. "I'm preparing every single day to the max of my ability and preparing every day to do the best I can. When my number is called, that's when I'll play."