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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Explaining Dan Gronkowski's return

By Mike Reiss

When the Patriots released Dan Gronkowski on Sept. 23, several followers asked why the Patriots would make the move because it left them with just one available tight end at the time.

As had been assumed, the reason was health-related. Entering the team's Week 3 game at Buffalo, Gronkowski injured his hamstring in practice and because the Patriots had a run of injuries at various positions, they simply couldn't keep a roster spot for him until he would be ready to return in a few weeks. So they released him with the intention of bringing him back (one tip-off was that his belongings remained in his locker).

The return became official today, the team announcing the move.

"I'm definitely fired up," Rob Gronkowski, his brother, said Tuesday on ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt Show (link here). "I knew he was going to be back. He just had to get a little healthy again. It's cool he's back, definitely exciting. I can't wait to start playing with him again."

The Patriots had an open roster spot after waiving offensive tackle Thomas Welch -- who had been utilized as a sixth blocker over the last two games -- on Monday.

Dan Gronkowski's primary role over the first two games of the season, in which he was charted on the field for a total of 40 snaps, was also blocking-based. He didn't record a reception. He joins his brother and Aaron Hernandez to fill out the team's tight end depth chart.