The ”Summer of Gronk” now over, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski said he has only one thing on his mind.
”It’s training camp time. When it’s football time, it’s all football, nothing apart from football. I’m glad to be back,” Gronkowski related after the 2nd day of the Patriots training camp.
”Missed the locker room, missed the squad, missed competing vs. the defense. So far, the last 2 days, (I’m) having a lot of fun out there competing as hard as we can. Everyone’s improving. Just focusing on my job and that’s all I really care about – my job out on the football field.”
The ”Summer of Gronk” began after Gronkowski, who set NFL records for a tight end with 17 touchdown catches and 1,327 yards receiving, played hurt in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants (2 catches, 26 yards) due to an injured left ankle.
He required surgery on the ankle the week after the game – but that was just the start of the wild and whacky offseason.
Gronkowski, in no definite order, won a star home run derby at the Triple-A All-Star Game (reportedly hitting one 325 feet).
Oh, and he also signed a 6-year contract extension worth $54 million – the wealthiest deal ever given to a tight end. It includes $18.17 million in guaranteed money.
But all that was then and this is now. NFL spreads
Gronkowski, questioned if any person on the training staff talked to him about toning things down a bit off the field, asserted, ”You can ask the coaches that. It’s football time now and that’s all I’m worried about, football, football, football – improving out on the field each day.
”All I concentrate on is football. I love the game. That’s my No. 1 passion.”
Fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, asked about his teammate’s antics, said he doesn’t pay attention of the majority of that stuff.
”I’m sure he was having fun,” Hernandez said. ”I definitely get laughs when people let me know about some of the stuff. I’m more laid back.”
As far as Gronkowski the football player, Hernandez related, ”He’s still a beast. He is a freak of nature. He can make plays, especially when you have a good QB like Tom (Brady) to throw you the ball. Tom’s going to put it in the right place.
”When you’re 6-7, with 7-something arm reach, not so many people will be in a position to get their hands there to stop you.”
Gronkowski, who caught 90 passes last season, simply wishes to keep improving. And being healthy is the 1st step.
”100%,” he said when asked how he feels. ”I’m out there each day. What does it look like? I’m going pretty hard. It’s good. You saw me out there. I’m out there.”
And he will not look backwards on the injury.
”This is training camp now,” he revealed. ”This is 2012 we’re in. New season, just trying to get better, all I really care about is tomorrow now.”