The Patriots are still yearning for tight end Rob Gronkowski to make an impact in a game. For now they’re honoring him with his efforts in practice.

The two-time Pro Bowler was selected as one of the practice players of the week so he is wearing the black jersey during the current run of workouts.

Gronkowski earned the nod for his work on the scout team giving the defense a good look as it prepared for Saints tight end Jimmy Graham who was shut out Sunday for the first time in three years.
“Big help” cornerback Alfonzo Dennard said of Gronkowski. “Jimmy Graham is one of the top tight ends so he was a good look.”

Safety Devin McCourty added “He’s key. Everyone is. He came in practicing and he filled a role for us out there on the practice team.”

Of course the Patriots aren’t getting the most out of Gronkowski’s $55 million extension if his greatest contributions are happening Wednesdays Thursdays and Fridays. They’d like to give Gronkowski some work on a Sunday too.

His agent said that might actually happen against the Jets.

“It’s really straightforward: When Rob is cleared he’ll play” Drew Rosenhaus told WQAM-AM 560 in Florida. “It shouldn’t be a big surprise to people that the guy has a very cautious approach right now because he had four operations on that forearm and he had a back operation. Quite frankly it’s not a huge upset that up to this point he hasn’t been cleared to play in a game. We anticipated this.

“Hopefully he’ll be back soon maybe even this weekend but there’s no way to know until the end of the week when his doctors make that determination.”

The Gronkowski situation has taken plenty of twists and turns as a story of a recovery from a series of surgeries spun into something of a soap opera. Last month the Herald reported a divide between Gronkowski’s camp and the Patriots over his readiness to return and Gronkowski since enlisted the consultation of renowned Dr. James Andrews He still hasn’t cleared Gronkowski to play but also doesn’t need to be the conclusive voice on the matter.