Rob Gronkowski: ‘I’m feeling way closer to playing’

FOXBOROUGH — Tight end Rob Gronkowski stopped short of declaring himself ready to play in a game for the Patriots, but said he has progressed significantly since last week.

Gronkowski has yet to play this season, still recovering from offseason surgeries on his back and forearm. He has practiced the past two weeks but was ruled inactive against both the Bills and Jets.

The Patriots face the Buccaneers Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Will Gronkowski be on the field?

“So far, there’s really nothing new to report. I’m just day-to-day and progressing every week,” Gronkowski said. “I’m just improving every week, feeling good every week. When everyone collaborates together and I feel ready to go, that’s when it will be.”

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Coach Bill Belichick, when asked how Gronkowski has looked, said the tight end has looked great in the meeting room. That drew a laugh from Gronkowski.

“In the meeting rooms? Definitely, I’ve been there every single day,” Gronkowski said. “You’ve got to stay up mentally on your game, obviously, with this offense, how Tom [Brady] runs it, how [offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels] presents everything to us, how he wants it run on the field.”

Gronkowski hasn’t played since the first playoff game last season, when he reinjured his forearm against the Texans. But he feels his return will come soon.

“I definitely feel closer, I’m feeling way closer to playing,” he said. “It feels good to be out on the field with your teammates, running around, catching balls from Tom, being with the tight ends again and doing drills with them. I’m having a blast out there.”