Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Rob Gronkowski: 'Arrow is pointing up' toward return from multiple injuries

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski says the "arrow is pointing up" toward him playing Monday night against the New York Giants after he has missed five games this season because of cracked ribs, a punctured lung and back spasms.

Gronkowski practiced in full Thursday and Friday for the first time since suffering his injuries, saying they were "crucial steps" in his recovery.

"It's going well now out here. Just did two practices in a row. The arrow is pointing up to play this week, and hopefully it's a go," said Gronkowski, speaking to the media Friday for the first time in two months.

Coach Bruce Arians echoed Gronkowski's comments, adding that the tight end "looks better and better."

Gronkowski suffered the rib injury in Week 3 at the Los Angeles Rams.

"The next day was the worst," Gronkowski said of playing through the injury. "I never got shot before, but that's kind of what it felt like."

He attempted to return in Week 8 at New Orleans but managed just five snaps before leaving in the first quarter because of back spasms. Following the Buccaneers' bye, he sat out last week's loss to Washington.

"I just want to get out there. I want to help out the guys. I want to get out there and make some plays like I was at the beginning of the year," said Gronkowski, who led the NFL with four touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season. "Get some first downs, get some touchdowns, just help out the offense throughout the game -- and that's the goal."

Despite his lengthy injury history, which includes three back surgeries and a one-year retirement in 2019, Gronkowski said he is not worried about which injury might be "the one" that takes him out of football completely.

"No, I just add that to the résumé," he said with a chuckle. "When I'm done one day, I can go through them all and tell my kids. You know how kids are. One day, you can have 'em, they can be crying about a bump, and I can be like, 'I had this, that and the other, don't worry about it.' But definitely, I'll sit there and I'll 'Cheers!' to all of 'em ... one day. But the résumé of breaking things and all that is pretty far up there.

Gronkowski also said jokingly, "I'll definitely have to file this one, too, under workers' comp. I think the NFL after I'm done is scared. Workers' comp, I'm coming for you guys."