FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have their game-changing tight end on the field in Miami for their season opener Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski -- whose 2013 season ended when he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee during the Pats' 27-26 victory over the Browns last December -- held court in the Patriots locker room on Monday and told reporters that he would be in action for New England's Week 1 contest.
"I'm ready to go," he said. "I'm ready to be out there. I'm ready to hit. I'm ready to start going."
Gronkowski and the Patriots have been building toward this all offseason, it seems. During OTAs and minicamp, he was a limited participant who ran conditioning drills with a group of teammates rehabbing various injuries. As training camp started, his workload began to pick up slowly. He ran routes with Tom Brady one week, the next he performed blocking drills. His repetitions increased steadily until he participated in 7-on-7 and then 11-on-11 work in the final week of camp practices.
He hasn't participated in any of New England's four preseason games this month, but he says he's looking forward to facing the full contact of a regular-season game. He also insisted that he'll continue to play with the style that he coined "smash and dash" in camp.
"I feel like I can just be myself out there," he said.