Rob Gronkowski and timetables. It feels like the two have been sharing company for years now. Perhaps that's because they have.
Arm, back and knee surgeries have slowed the New England Patriots' mighty tight end, costing him 14 regular season games and four more playoff matchups since 2012. Gronkowski's timetable is again the biggest story in Patriots camp as the team reports for work next week.
Gronkowski is determined to stay on the field in 2014.
"I'm planning on playing the whole season this year," Gronkowski said Friday at a women's football clinic, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.
"I'm always antsy to get back on the field, no matter when it is," he said. "I just want to play football. I love playing the game."
The Patriots open the season on Sept. 7 in Miami. Gronkowski is hopeful he'll be ready for Week 1 but is less certain about his availability for training camp. He's likely headed for a stint on the team's physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
"I don't know yet until I report, so I'll sit down with the coaches and training staff and we'll see," he said. "I'm just working with the trainers right now, improving every single day and whenever it starts up, whatever the trainers have, whatever the coaches have for me, whatever we feel comfortable with (we'll be) doing as much as possible every day that I can do."
On the latest edition of the Around The League Podcast, NFL Media's Bucky Brooks predicted the Patriots will have a top-10 defense in 2014. Still, the key to the whole operation is Gronk, whose health could ultimately determine if Tom Brady gets a sixth crack at the Super Bowl.