FOXBOROUGH -- Stop us if you've heard this before: Rob Gronkowski said he's "day to day" and "working hard" as he continues his return from back surgery and multiple arm surgeries.
The Patriots tight end, who dutifully stood at his locker Thursday to field questions about his health status and potential return to game play, has clearly wearied of this particular part of his week, though it seems a good number of Patriots fans have wearied of the will-he-or-won't-he questions as well.
"I’m just improving every week. That’s all," said Gronkowski. "Like I said, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed the whole time. The thing that has changed, actually, is I’m improving every week."
Earlier Thursday, Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, appeared on a Miami radio station and said he doesn't understand why Gronkowski's situation has gotten so much attention. He added that Gronkowski still has not been cleared to play, but "hopefully he'll be back soon, maybe even this weekend."
Gronkowski was asked about the process of being checked each week -- when and how it happens -- but he deferred and said Bill Belichick should be asked that question instead.
There was one thing Gronkowski said that raised eyebrows a bit. As to whether he would be playing now if the decision were solely up to him, he didn't say yes.
"Ah, I wouldn’t say that because I mean, I … you've got to go through the process of asking the doctors and everything, so I’m not just going to make a decision by myself. That’s why you have a whole organization, to work together," Gronkowski said.
He affirmed that he is frustrated by not playing, and at getting the same questions week after week.
"Obviously I want to be out there," Gronkowski said. "I love the game of football, I love playing, I love playing the game. It’s great being out there with my teammates, getting on the same page, getting the chemistry down and we’ll see."
Also of note: The open locker room period with media began just as players were streaming in after practice, and Gronkowski had a black jersey stretched over his shells (soft pads). Belichick awards black jerseys after wins to signify practice players of the week, players who did not play or played little in the actual game but had a big part in getting the team ready in the days leading up to it in practice.