TE Williams en route before Gronk's injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tight end D.J. Williams was on an airplane Sunday afternoon, following the Patriots’ 27-26 win over the Browns online, when he learned that Rob Gronkowski was carted off the field with a right knee injury.

Williams was actually headed to New England because his plans were to attend the game before a flight delay thwarted his attempt. But that made the next day easier, as the Patriots -- who had released him Dec. 4 after an eight-day stint with the club-- called to re-sign him to a two-year contract, through the 2014 season.

“I was just hanging around, seeing what would happen,” Williams told reporters today.

The third-year pro was disappointed that his opportunity came at the expense of Gronkowski.

“It was unfortunate. I was only here for a week, but I understood how great of a guy he is already,” he said. “Talk about a guy who has been through so much with injuries. I wasn’t like ‘I’m going to get a spot.’ I genuinely felt upset for him and hope the best for him in the future.”

Williams, who adds depth at tight end behind Matthew Mulligan and Michael Hoomanawanui, admitted to being surprised when the Patriots released him last week. The decision came only a few hours after he had been interviewed by reporters for the first time.

“It was a little bit unexpected, but I understand they have to do what’s best for the team,” he said. “It’s nothing personal. I wasn’t bitter or sore at all about it and boom, now I’m back. I’m glad I didn’t leave pissed off or anything.”

Williams had considered staying in New England after being released, but instead returned home.

“I thought about it, just to see what was going to happen, but I didn’t have my car or anything here, and was going to get bored,” he said. “So I figured I’d go home, enjoy some good weather, and I got caught in an ice storm down there in Arkansas.”