"Obviously I want to be out there," Gronkowski reiterated on Thursday. "I love the game of football, and I love playing. I love playing the game. It's great being out there with my teammates, practicing out there, being on the same page, getting the chemistry down . . . and we'll see."
But even Gronkowski -- who at times appears to operate in his own alternate reality: Gronk's World -- wasn't willing to play make believe when asked if he would be on the field Sunday against the Jets if decision was left up to him and him alone.
"I wouldn't say that because you gotta go through the process of asking the doctors and everything," he said. "I'm not just gonna make it up and make a decision by myself. That's why you got a whole organization to work together."
Gronkowski's agent Drew Rosenhaus told Joe Rose on WQAM-AM 560 that renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews has not yet cleared Gronkowski to play. The Patriots tight end explained on Thursday, however, that when he finally plays a regular-season game will be a group decision.
"It's basically myself, the doctors and just talking with the coaches, especially coach [Bill] Belichick to see how things are going," Gronkowski said. "We talk all the time to see how things are going and we talk all the time about how things are going, me and [Belichick] have been on the same page the whole time, ever since the beginning, and the decision will be made eventually."
Gronkowski was spotted with one of the Patriots' black practice jerseys in the locker room on Thursday, meaning he was one of the team's practice players of the week last week.
That's not a shock given that before the Saints game, Patriots defenders said they'd be better prepared for New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham because they go up against Gronkowski in practice.
That Gronkowski is able to provide a reasonable facsimile to someone as talented as Graham might serve as evidence that the Pats tight end is moving normally in team workouts. Plus, Brady told Fox Sports' Troy Aikman that Gronkowski was the "best" player at Patriots practice last week.
Are those signs that Gronkowski is close to a return? On Thursday, Gronkowski would only say that he's improving as the weeks roll by.
"Just improving every week," he said. "That's all really. As I've said, nothing's changed, man. Nothing's changed the whole time. The only thing that has changed is just that I'm improving every week and that's going good."
The questions about his status have become tiresome Gronkowski admitted, but he explained that he believes his mindset has helped to keep him focused on his preparations and his rehab.
"You gotta be strong there. Strong mentality," he said. "I believe that's what I got, and when my number's called when I'm ready to go, I'm gonna be out there like I have been before. I can't wait and I'm excited."