Rob Gronkowski returns to Patriots practice in full pads

Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

The Patriots offense gets a huge boost with Rob Gronkowski returning to practice in full pads, but his Week 1 status remains uncertain. We break down the fantasy implications.

The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe reported Sunday that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski practiced with the team in full pads.

More: For more on the Patriots, check out Pats Pulpit

Gronkowski is recovering from back and forearm surgery and was expected to miss time in the early part of the 2013 season. However, the team elected not to place Gronkowski on their PUP list, and the former pro-bowler was seen practicing blocking techniques and short routes during positional drills.

Fantasy Spin: Gronkowski was also seen going at a much slower pace than teammates Zach Sudfeld and Michael Hoomanawanui, and that was only noted from a 15-minute portion of practice that was open to the media. Though Gronkowski practicing with the team is an encouraging sign, there is still much we don't know about his status. A Week 1 return is very much up in the air, although the chances of him playing sooner than later appear to be much greater than what was thought just days ago.

Currently, Gronkowski is the second tight end being taken in drafts, and in the tail-end of the fourth round, he would be an excellent value pick if he sees the field in the season's first few weeks. Gronkowski owners would be better suited to have a solid backup penciled into the starting lineup in the meantime as well.

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