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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Rob Gronkowski practices Thursday

By Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak
ESPNBoston.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski took part in the second half of the team's two-hour practice Thursday, marking the first time he's returned to the field since suffering a left high ankle sprain Jan. 22 in the AFC Championship Game.

"He did some things. He didn't do everything," coach Bill Belichick told a pool reporter. "We'll see how it is tomorrow. I think that will be the big key, how he responds to this today."

When asked if he was encouraged by Gronkowski's workload, Belichick said, "It was a good test for him. At least he was out here and did some things to see how it feels."

The Patriots practiced in light shoulder pads, running a variety of offensive, defensive and special teams drills inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Belichick described the workout as one that had "good energy" as the players worked hard.

Looking ahead to Friday, Belichick said the practice would be more review work.

Earlier Thursday before practice, Gronkowski said that the final decision on whether he plays in Super Bowl XLVI will come as a result of collaboration between him and the team's athletic training staff.

"It's my body and I know how I feel the best," Gronkowski said. "I just communicate with the trainers on how I feel, what they think, and we just put all our knowledge together so we can get the best possible situation."

Gronkowski added that he wouldn't play if he felt it wasn't the right thing to do.

"I will make the final call. I listen to the trainer's advice, but it's how I feel," he said. "I'm just trying to get better. The trainer has helped me to get to a place where I need to be."

Team sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Gronkowski was expected to play Sunday, barring a setback at practice.

"Obviously I want to be out there and get some practices in before a game. I want to do as much as possible before a game," Gronkowsi said before practice. "We'll see."

As for what might happen Sunday if Gronkowski feels he's ready to play, and the athletic training staff feels otherwise, it's a scenario that Gronkowski hasn't considered.

"We haven't really got to that point yet. We're on the same page, we've been on the same page for the last few weeks, and it's going well so far," he said.

Gronkowski also clarified that he wouldn't wear a specialized cleat Sunday night, but he instead will consider different options when it comes to taping and adding support to a cleat.

"Just weighing all our options," he said. "I won't really even know until game time anyways."

Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak cover the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.