FOXBORO -- It wasn't much, but it was more than we've seen to this point.
At the tail end of Wednesday's training camp practice, with a large number of players walking off the field and toward the locker room, Rob Gronkowski took part in a brief blocking exercise with defensive end Rob Ninkovich. As tight ends coach Brian Daboll looked on, Gronkowski got into Ninkovich's chest plate as the two pushed against each other to a relative stalemate.
The drill didn't appear to be done at full speed -- Ninkovich didn't make any sort of move to get around Gronkowski -- but Gronkowski was provided with a fair level of resistance as he worked on technique.
It was the first time that I had seen Gronkowski perform a blocking drill against someone not using a large hand-held pad.
We've seen Gronkowski's workload increased slowly since the start of training camp last week. While he was in uniform from the start, he participated only in individual drills with the rest of New England's tight ends early in camp.
Later he and Tom Brady began to meet in between offensive periods to give Gronkowski reps catching the football since the tight end was missing opportunities to make plays by not participating in any of the 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work.
On Tuesday Gronkowski's reps with Brady seemed to increase, and Darrelle Revis was introduced into their sessions in order to shadow Gronkowski without getting physical with him.
Wednesday's brief post-practice blocking session appeared to be just another baby step toward getting Gronkowski and his surgically-repaired right knee to return to full participation in practice.
We'll continue to follow his progression throughout camp and keep you apprised.