FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski looked “almost Gronk-esque” on Sunday as he practiced in full pads for the first time since having back surgery.
The star tight end for the New England Patriots (Amherst) participated in drills with his teammates during the 15 minutes reporters were allowed to observe the start of practice.
Gronkowski isn’t expected to play in the first few games but wasn’t placed on the physically unable to perform list, a move that would have required him to miss at least the first six games of the season.
“He looked good,” tight end Michael Hoomanawanui said. “He looked almost Gronk-esque.”
In his three NFL seasons, Gronkowski has been chosen for two Super Bowls and caught 187 passes for 38 touchdowns despite missing the last five regular-season games last year.
He’s had four operations this year, three on his broken left forearm and one on his back on June 18. He had another forearm surgery last year after breaking it on Nov. 18 while blocking on an extra point against the Indianapolis Colts.
Gronkowski walked into the locker room with a smile Sunday and told reporters he would speak with them later in the week. The other two tight ends were glad to see him working out in pads. During training camp, he frequently watched practice from the sideline while dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.
“It was very cool to see him out there” on Sunday, said tight end Zach Sudfeld, who made the team as a rookie free agent from Nevada. “This is the first time I’ve been able to practice and have him be out there, so it was a great experience.”
Meanwhile, a person familiar with the situation says the Patriots have released running back-kick returner Leon Washington.
Washington, who signed with the team in the offseason, was not at practice with the team Sunday after being told he had been released, a source told The Associated Press.
Around the league
• The New York Jets bolstered their backfield by claiming running back Alex Green, who led Green Bay in rushing last season, off waivers from the Packers. The Jets also were awarded tackle Ben Ijalana from Indianapolis and linebacker Scott Solomon from Tennessee off waivers Sunday.
• The Jacksonville Jaguars have been awarded seven players off waivers, a clear indication of the rebuilding team’s depth. The Jaguars picked up receiver Stephen Burton (Minnesota), defensive back Winston Guy (Seattle), tight end Clay Harbor (Philadelphia), guard Jacques McClendon (Atlanta), linebacker Chris McCoy (Philadelphia), linebacker J.T. Thomas (Chicago) and tight end D.J. Williams (Green Bay) on Sunday.
• The Browns continued overhauling their 53-man roster, terminating the contracts of running back Brandon Jackson and Kellen Davis. The team also claimed six players off waivers Sunday while waiving linebacker L.J. Fort, offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann, offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw and fullback Brad Smelley.