Gronkowski Ready to Focus on Football, Not Health

Foxborough, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski says he no longer wants to discuss his health.

After making his season debut Sunday against the New York Jets, catching eight passes for 114 yards in the Patriots’ 30-27 overtime loss, Gronkowski finally is ready to put behind him all those questions he was asked about injuries and timetables.

“You always get the jitters the first game back and everything. It’s just football now,” he said. “This is my fourth year. I’ve got to just go out there and do what I’ve got to do, listen to the coaches, listen to the players and just practice to the best of my ability so I can be ready for Sunday, and keep a rhythm going every single week.”

Gronkowski missed the first six games of the season following surgeries on his back and broken left forearm, but made an immediate impact against the Jets. He was targeted a team-high 17 times and nearly made a spectacular one-handed grab that likely would have led to a touchdown.

He said Wednesday he was a bit tired during his first substantial game action since Dec. 30.

“Just every week, out at the practice field just trying to improve my game, and by improving your game it’s improving your condition, improving your strength, improving your routes, improving your blocking,” Gronkowski said. “Every week just going out there working hard, working to the best of my ability to get where I need to be for that Sunday.”

Gronkowski sported a large, black brace along most of his left arm Sunday and said he plans to wear it for the entire season.

“I wear it in practice. Got to get used to it,” he said. “It’s second nature. The brace is there and I’m used to it, so it’s cool.”

Quarterback Tom Brady clearly looked in Gronkowski’s direction more than his other receivers Sunday, and was asked Wednesday about the potential dangers of doing so.

“You’ve got to be able to spread it around, there’s no question about that,” Brady said. “It just happens to be if a guy is a particular read on a play and he is open, you let it rip, whoever it is.”

Pats Bring Back Lineman

Foxborough, Mass. — The Patriots re-signed veteran defensive lineman Andre Carter.

He had 10 sacks for the Patriots in 2011, his only season with them, and was chosen to his first Pro Bowl. He played for the Oakland Raiders in 2012, his 12th NFL season, but has been a free agent since being released Aug. 31.

The Patriots have been without starting defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Wilfork went on season-ending injured reserve on Oct. 3 with a torn right Achilles tendon. Kelly has missed the last two games with a knee injury.

“This place holds a special meaning,” Carter said. “Not just for as far as what I did, but just the camaraderie I had here in 2011, the town of Foxborough, the state.”

The Patriots also made two practice squad moves Wednesday, signing defensive tackle Sealver Siliga and releasing cornerback Travis Howard. On Monday, they waived defensive tackle Andre Neblett.

Carter said it is up to coaches whether he plays Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, but added he felt good during Wednesday’s practice and is beginning to re-acclimate to a defense that has changed a bit since he left.

“As far as the scheme and stuff, there’s a few tweaks, but that’s the NFL in general,” he explained. “You can’t always run the same schemes year after year. You’ve got to constantly modify it because that’s the only way you’re going to get better and make plays.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the organization believed he could add to the team.

“He’s a hard-working guy that’s given us great leadership in the past and is a good teammate,” Belichick said. “I mean, everybody loves Andre.”