Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady on Rob Gronkowski: 'We’re all hoping that when he comes back, he’s the same player he always is'

Ryan Hannable
November 13, 2018 - 11:13 am

Rob Gronkowski has missed three out of the last four games with nagging back and ankle injuries, and it appears the team is taking a cautious approach to try and get the most out of him the remainder of the season.

The All-Pro tight end hasn't looked himself so far this season, but the hope is the extra time off will get him as close to his full potential as possible for the stretch run and playoffs.

“First of all, Gronk is a great player," Tom Brady said Monday night on Westwood One Radio. "And Gronk is extremely tough and hard working. I know he’s working hard at his rehabilitation. We’re all hoping that when he comes back, he’s the same player he always is. When he comes back, that’s really up to the trainers to decide. In the meantime, what we can do for the players out on the field who are trying to play better and earn these victories is do a better job in our areas and focus on what we need to. When I think about myself, I think about how I need to play and what things I need to improve to give our team a better chance to win. And as we get guys healthy here over the next six weeks up until the end of the season … obviously, having good players out there helps a team. The better players you have, the better the team is going to be.

"We love having Gronk out there. We love having everyone healthy. I know different guys are battling through some things this time of year. It’s a very physical sport. But we’ll see how it all plays out over the next six weeks. But I think all of our best football is ahead of us.”

As for Brady himself, some have said he's slipping after throwing just one touchdown pass in his last three games. The 41-year-old acknowledged he believes he can play better, but didn't seem overly concerned with his play.

“Everything is different from one year to the next," he said. "I think you keep working at it the same way. Those things haven’t changed for me. Some of my statistics have changed. But I think you have to look at … I feel good out there. Do I want to play better? I absolutely want to play better. I want to play as best as I possibly can for our team, and that’s what my job is. And certainly [Sunday] was not a great performance. I have to go out there and play my best these next six weeks to give our team the best chance. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I’m going to focus on the next two weeks.

"We have another road test. Another opportunity to go against the Jets — a division rival in two weeks. And we have to have our best road game of the year. That’s what I’m expecting from us.”

Related: Hannable: Patriots’ offensive woes vs. Titans aren’t nearly as bad as they seem