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Ailing Gronkowski returns to Patriots practice

NFL

POSTED February 2, 2012 10:53 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Rob Gronkowski practiced with the New England Patriots for the Super Bowl for the first time Thursday. Now coach Bill Belichick is waiting to see how the All-Pro tight end’s injured ankle responds.
Gronkowski, recovering from a high sprain in his left ankle, participated on a limited basis for the first time since being injured Jan. 22 in the third quarter of the 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game.
“He did some things. He didn’t do everything,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how he is (Friday). I think that will be the big key.”
Gronkowski, who set an NFL single-season record for tight ends with 17 touchdown catches, took part during the second half of the nearly two-hour practice for Sunday’s championship game against the New York Giants.
“It was fine,” Belichick said, “It was a good test for him, too, at least. At least he was out here and did some things to see how it feels. We’ll see how it goes.”
Gronkowski wore a removable boot for a week before discarding it Monday. Teammates have expressed confidence that he would play Sunday against the New York Giants.
“I know he’s going to be ready,” tight end Aaron Hernandez said. “It’s not like he broke anything or he can’t walk on it. He got a little sprain and he’s fine.”
Ten other players participated in practice on a limited basis. The Patriots will taper off their activity at Friday’s session.
“Obviously, we don’t have much new going in, just kind of making sure everything we have going in we’ve got right,” Belichick said.
The Patriots plan to hold a walk through on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Belichick took a half-hour break in practice to simulate the extended halftime for the Super Bowl.
“It’s not perfect but it’s the best we could do,” Belichick said. “Practice, take a break, come back out and re-start.”

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