There are always players a little extra excited for the first day of training camp, usually rookies or guys on new teams.
But in Patriots camp, it was tight end Rob Gronkowski bouncing around, spiking footballs and generally looking like a much younger Gronk.
Part of that comes with health, as the 28-year-old Gronkowski has recovered from back surgery and has been given the green light by coach Bill Belichick.
“I’ve definitely had a longer vacation than a lot of guys,” Gronkowski said, via Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com. “I’d probably say I was the most eager to get going, to get rolling.”
So when he got to the end zone in practice, he punctuated each of the three with celebrations, perhaps getting ready for this year’s more relaxed rules.
“It’s football,” he said. “Just when you’re feeling good out there and making plays you just want to have fun. That’s the whole game of football. Have fun out there, enjoy it and have competition. Competition is huge. That’s what gets you better. That’s what makes you better as a player. That’s what makes the team better — competition. . . .
“I don’t even notice know what I did. It wasn’t like a real spike, it was just like tossing it to the ground. Juiced up, just trying to make plays out there.”
Of course, Gronk’s sense of Gronk being Gronk may not be like what the rest of us see, but the Patriots are relieved to see their star tight end healthy and feeling good.