Gronk to travel with Pats, unsure about playing

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed last week’s win over the Chicago Bears with a back injury, said he plans to travel with the team for Monday night’s road game against the Buffalo Bills.

While Gronkowski stopped short of saying he would definitely play, he struck a confident tone when addressing reporters on Saturday.

“Obviously I feel better. I’ve been taking steps every single day forward,” Gronkowski said. “Definitely at this time last week, we’re way better [now].”

Gronkowski playfully deflected a different question on his back injury and if he thought last Saturday that he might have a chance to play against the Bears, imitating Bill Belichick by saying, “That was last Saturday. Next question.”

Belichick, who usually doesn’t comment on injuries, had detailed how things unfolded when the club noted Gronkowski’s back injury on its Friday injury report, and then didn’t have him travel with the team Saturday.

“It was a back. Had it cleared up Saturday night, we would have brought him out Sunday morning,” Belichick said in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI. “We wouldn’t have wanted to travel him out there, and put him on the plane and put him through everything, we didn’t think that would help it. We thought maybe if he just rested here, and see how he felt the next day; we listed him as doubtful, which it was. Could it have turned around? Possibly. Did it? No.”

Gronkowski did not practice Wednesday this week, and was listed by the team as a limited participant in practices on Thursday and Friday.

“I feel good,” Gronkowski said. “Just doing everything I need to do, whatever the training staff [says], whatever I can do out on the field, whatever coaches ask me to do — just taking it day by day, one step at a time to get back out on the field.”

Gronkowski, who grew up in Western New York attending Bills games, added that he was looking forward to playing at New Era Field on Monday night.

“It’s always special. This is my seventh, eighth time going up there, playing in Buffalo, and it’s always an honor, always special [to be] where you grew up watching them,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better football atmosphere either, especially this coming Monday night. It’s going to be rocking there. It’s going to be popping. It’s going to be one of the most electric atmospheres you can get in football.

“It’s going to be nuts, hands down. The games are nuts on Sunday 1 o’clock. The party is probably going to be starting at 10 a.m. and it’s going to go until after the game, maybe even longer. It’s going to be popping, just straight popping.”

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