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Rob Gronkowski advances to half-speed 11-on-11 work

Rob Gronkowski made it clear last week that he's still "not 100 percent" on the heels of last year's season-ending knee surgery, but Sunday marked new ground for New England's star tight end.

Initially limited to individual drills at Patriots camp, Gronkowski spent part of Sunday's practice in half-to-3/4 speed 11-on-11 drills, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer.

"Based on everything you're seeing out here, everything is going to according to plan," said Breer. "Now, for the first few days of camp, he wasn't in 7-on-7 drills and he wasn't in 11-on-11 drills. But what we just saw out here a few minutes ago, that might be changing. They actually had him out there for some half-speed 11-on-11 work, so it looks like he's continuing to take those steps forward toward Week 1."

Breer drew a parallel to how New England eased Wes Welker back into the lineup in 2010 after the wideout tore his ACL and MCL during the previous campaign.

"Everything that you see here indicates that Gronk is going to be a go for Week 1," said Breer, "even if they are taking it a little easy on him right now."

The tight end's rapid recovery is music to the ears of Tom Brady, who averaged a league-high 35.75 points and 473.25 yards per game last season during a five-game stretch after Gronk got into game shape. His return is the key to New England's lingering Super Bowl hopes.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" offers up team-by-team training camp previews of the NFC East and NFC West.

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