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Ailing Gronkowski wants to practice, admits he might not

INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has experienced anything but a normal week as his team prepares to face the New York Giants on Sunday night.

Instead of enjoying his first trip to the Super Bowl and going through a regular week of practice, Gronkowski has spent the last two weeks trying to rehabilitate his left ankle, which was injured in during the Patriots' AFC Championship Game victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

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"It's definitely tough," Gronkowski admitted Thursday morning. "You want to be out there with your teammates practicing, grinding. I know they're grinding out there, working hard, and that's what's so great. They all motivate you to work harder while you're out there practicing, and it's the final week. You want to be out there with your team. You want to feel like you're part of the team."

When asked about his return to the practice field, Gronkowski was vague, saying, "Possibly today, possibly tomorrow, possibly not all week."

"My mindset is that I'm going to play. Whose wouldn't be? It's the Super Bowl," Gronkowski said. "You want to be out there with the team, and I'm anxious to get out there. I'm anxious to even get a practice in and we're just taking it day by day, so when it does come to game time, I'm in the best position to play if I can."

Though he wants all of his players to be healthy so they can participate in a full week of practice, Patriots coach Bill Belichick understands injuries and illnesses are part of the game.

"That's something you deal with all year," Belichick said. "There are a lot of times where not every player is out there for every practice or able to participate in every practice. You do what you can do, and we'll just see how it goes. We'll take it day to day."

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Gronkowski isn't the only Patriots player battling to return to practice. Earlier this week, offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer and Matt Light missed time with illnesses.

"I'm feeling better, a little stuffed up, but I'll be all right," Vollmer said. "I think that flu, or whatever it was, won't be an issue. You kind of play the cards that you're dealt. It's not something you can choose and can only control to a certain degree, so you just deal with it as it comes."

Light liked the approach the Patriots took Wednesday. Instead of going through a regular practice, Belichick elected to give the team a break in the middle of the session in order to simulate the approximately 30-minute halftime they'll see in the Super Bowl.

"It's not quite what it's going to be like during the game, but at least you get a sense of trying to restart, get back out there and get used to doing those things," Light said. "I thought that the guys responded pretty well. We've got some things we need to work on and still fine-tune, but I thought it gave a pretty good idea of what it's going to look like Sunday."

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