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Rob Gronkowski four 'protein shakes away' from playing weight

When Rob Gronkowski returned to the NFL following a trade from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to join his buddy Tom Brady, one question that percolated was how quickly the All-World tight end could put back on the weight he'd shed.

Gronk's already almost there.

After getting down to 240 pounds during retirement -- and looking every bit that skinny -- Gronkowski told CBS Sports HQ this week that he's nearly back to his expected playing weight.

"Yeah, baby, yeah. You know it," Gronkowski said. "My lowest I got to was 240. And it felt good, you know. I've been above 260 pounds basically my whole entire life, since high school. Since senior year in high school, I was 260. I had never been under 260 since then. So, it felt good just to drop that weight, you know ease up my joints, let my body free. I kind of felt like that weight was loaded weight, too. So, it felt good to get rid of it.

"Now it's time to build back upon it, put lean muscle on my body and get ready for the NFL season like I never have before. It's a different way, a different type of training style I'm doing and everything. I'm about 257 pounds right now. Everyone thinks I'm like 240, 230, but I'm basically four more protein shakes away from being at my playing weight. I'm excited about that. I'll definitely be at my weight when it's time to go. I'll be at 260 to 265 when it's time to roll."

No one questioned Gronk's ability to pack back on the poundage when needed. That he's well on his way with months to spare is a good sign he could recapture his title of best all-around tight end in the NFL. The best blocking TE in the game when healthy, Gronkowski needs to be able to keep on the weight to battle defensive linemen and linebackers in the trenches when asked.

The weight question aside, how the year off affects Gronk will be an interesting sidebar to a crazy offseason in Tampa. Will he return refreshed and rejuvenated or, like many we've seen over the years, did he lose a little bit by stepping away from the game for a spell?

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