Rob Gronkowski returns to full practice

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski takes part in full-pad practice for the first time since undergoing multiple surgeries during the off-season.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has returned to full-pad practice for the first time since undergoing a string of operations in the off-season.

Gronkowski had a number of surgeries on his left forearm and one on his back during the summer, leaving himself facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

However, the Patriots placed him on their active roster yesterday instead of keeping him on the physically unable to perform list, suggesting that they are hopeful of a recovery in the opening few weeks.

The 24-year-old will not be fit to face the Buffalo Bills in the Patriots' season opener next week, while their first home match against the New York Jets could also come too soon for Gronkowski.

However, the former second-round draft pick could be ready to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 22.

New England's Rob Gronkowski celebrates a TD against Miami on December 30, 2012
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