Rob Gronkowski may be ready to play in the New England Patriots’ season opener, but his coach put the kibosh on his enthusiastic pronouncement.
“I’m glad that Rob’s optimistic about his situation,” Coach Bill Belichick told reporters. “With all due respect to Rob, I’m glad he feels the way he does, but in the end, we’ll have to make the decision that we feel is best for the team and we’ll do that as we go through the week.”
The tight end, who underwent reconstructive knee surgery nine months ago, told ESPN on Monday: “I’m ready to go. I’ll be playing. I feel mentally and physically ready, for sure. No doubt about it. My mentality now is I’m ready to go, I’m ready to be out there, I’m ready to hit, I’m ready to start going.”
Gronk quickly qualified that by adding that he might be limited but wanted “just get out there, get my feet wet.”
“A player hasn’t played in preseason, there’s still game speed and game situations and all the communication that goes on in the game,” Belichick said (via CBSSports.com). “That’s just different in practice. You have to be ready to handle that and work with your teammates in those conditions and that kind of timeframe and those type of game situations that change so fluidly. … Your mind has to transfer situations and transfer them very quickly because every play takes on a new down and distance or possibly field position.
“Players that aren’t in the game need to be able to have that time on the sideline to make adjustments and be ready to anticipate things that are going to happen the next series and all that. You don’t get good at those things with your teammates without being able to do them. It takes some time. Guys that don’t play have to make that ground up.”