Patriots

Gronk has no regrets over NFL return: 'I feel like I'm supposed to be here'

Patriots
Rob Gronkowski catches a pass at Bucs training camp
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Rob Gronkowski sure sounds happy to be back playing football again.

The veteran tight end is in his first training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being acquired from the New England Patriots via trade in April.

After taking a year off from the NFL, Gronkowski told reporters in a video call Thursday that he doesn't regret coming back and is slowly getting back up to speed.

"Definitely no regrets. I'm here. I feel like I'm supposed to be here," Gronkowski said. "That's in the past, and I'm here to play football now. I'm glad to be here. Going out there and just playing ball, it feels good.

"Let me tell you -- the first couple practices, it definitely felt a little weird. The game was really fast when I first got out there again. The defense felt really fast, and as time goes on, I feel better about myself being out there. My confidence keeps going up, the game is slowing down. I'm starting to pick up the offense more. Overall it's going well, but there's so much more I got to work on and so much more to improve on, but I'm really glad to be here."

When told about a compliment Bucs head coach Bruce Arians made about how well Gronk is moving out on the field, the veteran tight end admitted that he's happy with where his body is at right now.

"I didn't know he said that. The last thing he said to me was I was in New England shape and that I'm not in Florida shape," Gronkowski said with a smile. "I'll take that compliment from him, for sure. I'm feeling good. My body feels good, that's why I came back to the game and that's how I want to be moving. I want to be moving like how I was back in the day. No doubt about that -- why else would I want to come back to the game and be moving like poop? I'm here to move and make plays. I'm here to block in the run game and I'm here to make plays in the passing game."

 

It's encouraging for the Buccaneers that Gronkowski has made a pretty smooth transition back to football. However, it's one thing to practice with teammates and it's quite another to be in a game where opponents are tackling and hitting you with great intensity. 

Luckily for the Bucs, they don't need Gronkowski to be an elite player by the start of the regular season. Tampa Bay's tight end group has plenty of depth, with veterans Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard being more than capable of shouldering the offensive burden at the position as Gronkowski rounds into his old form.