FOX Sports Exclusive
Injured Patriots TE Gronkowski improving
Rob Gronkowski says he is getting better, but his status for Super Bowl XLVI is still uncertain.
The New England Patriots tight end — who hasn't practiced since suffering a high left ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game — said Tuesday he is improving each day yet did not offer any definite word on his status for Sunday's showdown with the New York Giants.
"I'm just listening to the trainers and taking it day-by-day," Gronkowski said during Media Day on Tuesday.
Gronkowski appeared to be walking fine and had shed the walking boot he had been seen wearing last week. He refused to give a concrete sense of how much he'll play, though stressed his desire to get on the field in some capacity.
"That's all I want to do, be out there with the team," he said.
The 22-year-old — who hauled in 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns in a record-setting season — suffered the injury in the third quarter of the Jan. 22 game against the Baltimore Ravens but later returned to action.
"I wanted to get out there and help the team, and I felt like I could," Gronkowski said.
The Patriots' second-leading receiver this season, Gronkowski broke the single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end. He accounted for 43.5 percent of quarterback Tom Brady's 39 regular-season touchdown passes.
"He’s one of, basically the main reason why we succeed so well in this offense," fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez said. "He’s such a huge weapon and causes so many mismatches it makes it hard for defenses to focus on one player. Obviously if he’s a 100 percent, that’s what we need."
Gronkowski's teammates sounded optimistic that the 6-foot-6, 265-pounder would be ready to go at kickoff Sunday.
"Rob’s a big boy," wide receiver Wes Welker said. "He’s tough and everything else, so I’m not too worried about him."
His status for the game figures to affect the Giants' defensive game plan.
"Our whole mindset is that he is going to be 100 percent by game time, especially given a game of this magnitude," Giants linebacker Michael Boley said. "I can’t expect anything but his best. . . . His size alone just creates a lot of problems for a lot of people."
More Stories From Zack Pierce