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Rob Gronkowski: “It was great” to get preseason action

New England Patriots v Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 19: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a preseason game at NRG Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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The Patriots have long opted to save tight end Rob Gronkowski’s game action for the regular season, but they went in a different direction on Saturday night in Houston.

Gronkowski was in the lineup for a preseason game for the first time since 2012 and played two series with the starting offense before retreating to the bench. He didn’t get targeted for a pass, but blocked well in the run game and, most importantly, came out of the game without any nicks to his surgically repaired back or other body parts.

“We expect to play every game, 60 minutes every game,” Gronkowski said, via the Boston Herald. “It felt good to be out there, get my feet wet, however many plays or whatever. It was great.”

Quarterback Tom Brady also made his first appearance of this preseason and said the time together in a game is “something you can’t replicate in practice.” We’ll see how much more time those two players see in the preseason over the next couple of weeks as the Patriots work to make sure they’re together as much as possible once the season gets underway.