Shutdown Corner

No timetable for Rob Gronkowski’s return, Tim Tebow catching passes at Patriots camp

Shutdown Corner

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The Patriots don't have a timetable on Rob Gronkowski's recovery (USA Today Sports Images)

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was placed on the "Active/Physically Unable to Perform" list at the beginning of training camp. Gronkowski can be removed from that list at any time, but when that might take place is unknown as head coach Bill Belichick said there is no timetable for Gronkowski's return.

"Nope," Belichick replied when asked if there was a timetable for when Gronkowski would be back. "I can’t predict what is going to happen with rehabilitations or injuries of any sort. Players are day-to-day. As we know, sometimes that’s a steady line, sometimes that’s slow progress and then a big jump. Sometimes it’s a jump and then it levels off. There’s no way to predict what’s exactly going to happen.

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"We’ll just take everybody day-by-day, see how they do and treat them the next day based on what their performance and how they feel from the day before. That will be the same with everybody. There’s nobody in any different category than that — they’re all the same."

Gronkowski had multiple surgeries on his broken left forearm this offseason and underwent back surgery (specifically a microscopic lumbar discectomy) in mid-June. The expectation was for Gronkowski to be back sometime in late August, which could mean a return for Week 1. However, with Gronkowski spending the offseason having and recovering from surgeries, it would be unrealistic to expect him to be at 100 percent in early September.

With Gronkowski unavailable, and Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead off the roster, the Patriots will have a much different set of receivers for Tom Brady to throw to this season. Sorting that group out began with the first practice on Friday, during which Tim Tebow was catching passes.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Tebow caught a pass from No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett "in a weird new drill I've never seen before". Breer adds that Tebow continued to catch passes and was lining up with the running backs and receivers during non-contact drills.

Belichick was asked about Tebow's role on offense.

"I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is," Belichick said on Friday morning.

As Shutdown Corner noted in June, the Patriots using Tebow at tight end makes sense, but expectations on his ability to produce at that position in 2013 should be tempered as he's never played the position at any level.

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