New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski is sick of missing NFL games. He’s so sick of it, that he fully intends on playing in all 16 regular season games in 2014.
Despite still rehabbing a torn ACL he sustained in the middle of the 2013 season, Gronkowski remains on track for a week one return and has a full season in his sights.
“I’m planning on playing the whole season this year,” Gronkowski said at a women’s football clinic he hosts.
While recently being labeled injury-prone, Gronkowski actually was able to thwart off a college back issue to play all 16 games in each of his first two seasons. During that time, “The Gronk” quickly turned into one of the most unstoppable weapons in the league, as he scored a career high 17 touchdowns in 2011, just his second season in the league.
Gronkowski hasn’t found it easy to play it all 16 games the past two years, however, as an arm injury held him to just 11 starts in 2012. Recurring issues with the arm and a back issue led to Gronkowski missing the first six games to start last season, with his most recent injury taking him off the field for the remainder of the season in week 14 after just seven healthy games.
In just four seasons, Gronkowski has firmly established himself as one of the most dangerous red-zone threats, but after missing a total of 14 of a possible 32 games the past two seasons, he’s also widely regarded as injury-prone.
Thanks to a speedy recovery from his knee injury to this point, Gronkowski looks to be committed to shedding that label and returning to elite form. The beauty is that form really never left, as Gronkowski was always dominant before and after injuries. In fact, despite missing five games in 2012 he still caught 11 touchdowns, while he also was on quite a tear during the seven games he played last year before going down.
Staying on the field is the key. While saying it and doing it are obviously two very different things, it’s good to know Gronkowski has getting and staying healthy as his top goal for 2014.