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Gronkowski back at practice

He's limited, still getting treatment

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / February 3, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS - A small measure of order was restored yesterday when injured tight end Rob Gronkowski - he of the most talked-about ankle since Curt Schilling and the bloody sock - returned to practice, although he had limited participation in the nearly two-hour session.

“He did some things, he didn’t do everything,’’ coach Bill Belichick said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow. I think that would be the big key, how he responds today.’’

While Belichick, who is always reticent to discuss injuries, expressed caution, a league source confirmed Gronkowski will play in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, Gronkowski, who has been known to ham it up a bit, was at it again. When he arrived at the Patriots’ media session at the University Place Conference Center, it was with an exaggerated limp, before laughing.

When he exited the tent, he again did so with a dramatic limp.

Clearly, he has kept his sense of humor while dealing with an endless stream of questions about his health.

“Of course, there is definitely frustration,’’ Gronkowski said. “But I’m just worried about the things I can control. I’ve been getting healthier every day. I’m just listening to the coaches, doing the mental reps, and studying film on the Giants. You keep doing what you can to improve every day.’’

Trying to improve has included multiple rehab treatments per day. He called a pregame painkilling injection an option, and said he’ll try out special “devices’’ to get extra support for his ankle, including the possibility of a special shoe.

“I want to be out there. I’m anxious to be out there,’’ he said. “My goal is to be out there and do everything I can. I want to put myself in the best situation, so when it comes to Sunday, I will be in the best situation to play.’’

Gronkowski also said the final decision on whether he plays will be his, not the training staff’s.

“I know how much pain I can tolerate,’’ he said. “I will make the final call. I listen to the trainer’s advice, but it’s how I feel. I’m just trying to get better. The trainer has helped me to a place where I need to be.

“It’s the Super Bowl. I’m doing everything I possibly can to be out there. I want to be out there no matter what. I want to help out the team. I am doing everything possible to be out there. And we’ll just see on Sunday. I will try to go as much as possible.’’

Gronkowski was one of 11 players the Patriots listed as limited for practice, though none of the others were new to the list.

Heard it all before

Apprised of comments by defensive lineman Chris Canty, telling Giants fans to “get ready for a parade on Tuesday,’’ Patriots receiver Deion Branch said, “Anybody can throw a parade. I could throw a parade if I want to. We’ve heard that before. We heard that with Philadelphia [before Super Bowl XXXIX]. We heard that with Carolina [before Super Bowl XXXVIII].’’

Branch was asked if he was surprised by all of the talk from the Giants this week.

“If they’re doing it, that’s those guys. We just don’t do that over this way,’’ he said. “There is no need for it. I promise you we’re going to show up Sunday. So, we’ll be there. Let’s hope that they’ll be there, too, because we’re going to be there.’’

Lesson learned

Of the Patriots’ running backs (not counting Aaron Hernandez), rookie Stevan Ridley had the highest average, gaining 5.1 yards per carry on 87 attempts during the regular season. His 441 yards were second most on the team, behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s 667.

But Ridley fumbled for the first time in the regular-season finale against Buffalo (the ball went out of bounds), then lost a fumble in the playoff opener against Denver. For the first time this season, Ridley was inactive against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game.

Does he think he was benched because of the two fumbles?

“Probably. Most likely,’’ Ridley said. “The coaches hadn’t said anything about it, but I know as a player there’s a reason why. You have to admit to yourself when you’re wrong or messed up, and you just learn from it and build on it and move forward.’’

Does Ridley expect to play on Sunday?

“I’m planning on being out there,’’ he said. “Everybody’s going to be suited up and ready to go. If the coaches call my number, I’ll be ready to go.’’

They’ve got it covered

The current issue of Sports Illustrated features owner Robert Kraft on the cover, the second week in a row a member of the Patriots organization has received such treatment (Tom Brady).

Some believe there is an “SI cover jinx,’’ and that making the cover before a big event spells doom.

But Kraft isn’t worried.

“The only cover of Sports Illustrated that I would pay attention to was the swimsuit,’’ he said. “I never paid attention to the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was a great honor, it was unexpected. [But] I think they would have done better with an extra swimsuit cover.’’

Poor choice

Brady apologized after saying on Wednesday that hotels in Buffalo are “not the nicest places in the world’’ as he discussed the lengths his parents have gone to in order to see him play.

“I apologize for saying that, I probably should have picked a non-NFL city,’’ he said.

Brady also talked about the Giants’ final drive in Super Bowl XLII, one of the few times he’s publicly discussed that game.

“When we scored on the pass to Randy [Moss in the fourth quarter], the first thing I thought was the game’s not over,’’ said Brady. “Obviously, the big play was the catch by David Tyree. I started getting nervous after that. Once a team gets it going in the two-minute drill, they can be tough to stop.’’

Working men

Belichick said his players had “good energy, they worked hard,’’ during yesterday’s practice. Today’s practice, the final one before the Super Bowl, will be shorter and more of a review session, Belichick said . . . Ever aware of details, Belichick had the Patriots take a 30-minute break in the middle of Wednesday’s practice to simulate the longer halftime during the Super Bowl. “We were trying to simulate the best we can,’’ he said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we could do. Practice, take a break, come back out, and restart.’’

Chad Finn, Michael Whitmer, and Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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