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 weíll see where heís at today and tomorrow when we go out there, see what he can do," Belichick said on Wednesday, prior to the team's practice. "Weíll take it day-to-day, based on where heís at. Heís 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 theyíre not, then we donít. Itís the same for every player, we treat them all the same," Belichick said. "Thereís nothing more important than a playerís health and safety, so when theyíre cleared to play, then we make a playing decision, and if theyíre not cleared to play, then thereís no decision to make.
"I donít think thatís a decision that a coach makes or influences, thatís a medical decision if itís a medical situation. Once itís a competitive decision, then thatís a coachís decision. [If it's a] medical decision, thatís made by medical people."