FOXBOROUGH -- Rob Gronkowski has been back at practice for more than a week now while recovering from a broken forearm, but coach Bill Bellichick said the tight end won't play in a game for the Patriots until he's cleared medically, which hasn't happened yet.
In perhaps his strongest comments regarding the tight end's injury since Gronkowski suffered it on Nov. 19, Belichick said his player simply isn't ready to play yet.
"He did more last week than he did the week before, and we’ll see where he’s at today and tomorrow when we go out there, see what he can do," Belichick said on Wednesday, prior to the team's practice. "We’ll take it day-to-day, based on where he’s at. He’s moving along, not ready yet."
Ideally, Gronkowski will get some game snaps prior to the playoffs. With the Patriots currently holding the No. 3 seed in the AFC race, there's no guarantee they'll receive a first-round bye, which means that Gronkowski's last chance to play before a playoff game is Sunday's regular-season finale against the Dolphins.
Even though getting Gronkowski some pre-playoff snaps might be best for the player and the team, Belichick said a rash decision won't come at the expense of the player's health.
"Those are really decisions that are made medically. If players are able to play, then we play them. If they’re not, then we don’t. It’s the same for every player, we treat them all the same," Belichick said. "There’s nothing more important than a player’s health and safety, so when they’re cleared to play, then we make a playing decision, and if they’re not cleared to play, then there’s no decision to make.
"I don’t think that’s a decision that a coach makes or influences, that’s a medical decision if it’s a medical situation. Once it’s a competitive decision, then that’s a coach’s decision. [If it's a] medical decision, that’s made by medical people."