FOXBOROUGH — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been medically cleared to play, according to head coach Bill Belichick.
“Yeah, he would be ineligible to do that,” said Belichick, speaking of adding Gronkowski to the physically unable to perform list. “Not because he’s been here but because he’s been cleared to play.”
The Patriots coach said Gronkowski, along with at least half the team, has already been at Gillette Stadium going through conditioning drills and physical exams. His comments removed any doubt that the injury-ladened tight end would start training camp fully participating.
“The guys that we’re seeing for the first time, yeah I don’t know what their situation is. So they’ll have to be cleared by our medical department before they’re allowed to participate,” he said. “So that’s part of what today’s process is. The guys that have already been here, have already gone through that. There’s another group that’s going through that today.”
It stands to reason that Vince Wilfork has been cleared to play as well.
Other notes from Belichick’s opening press conference of training camp:
– Regarding Armond Armstead’s retirement, Belichick said the team didn’t start preparing for his departure until Armstead had another issue come up in the spring. “And then it was resolved when it was resolved, a week ago or whenever it was,” Belichick said. “It was a process (though). But I think after everything that he had gone through, that was the decision he made. But as that process was going on, we realized it was certainly a possibility (he would retire).”
– Rookie offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, who missed two weeks of the Patriots offseason program while finishing his time at Stanford, still needs some catching up to do. But he’s picking up things as quickly as his Aeronautics and Astronautics degree would suggest. “I think all the players are in different stages of development,” Belichick said. Cameron’s a smart kid. He’s picked things up quickly but started further behind because of the two and half weeks, or whatever it was, that he missed. We try to level the playing field here in training camp so that everybody gets an opportunity to compete. The double digit veterans and the guys who are here the first time. And that’s not going to be totally level, but it’ll be competitively level. They’re here, they’re working hard. We got a long, long way to go.”
– As for camp, Belichick said he expects things to move quickly. “Again, spring preparation has been a really important part of this whole process,” he said. “So now we’ll take it to the next step and hopefully get off to a good start these next couple of days. And get into a good solid week for ourselves and then get ready to work against two quality teams, two quality organizations.”
– No more excuses. “Everybody has had their opportunity to participate in the spring workouts to learn what we’re doing, to get in shape, to be ready to go and now we start competing,” he said. “We’ll see how that turns out.”