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Walking boot off, but 'Gronk' sheds little light on status

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Posted Jan. 31, 2012 @ 2:53 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

INDIANAPOLIS — The record-breaking season of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was one of the bigger factors behind New England's road to Super Bowl XLVI. Now, the question is: Will Gronkowski, nine days removed from suffering a high ankle sprain against the Ravens in the AFC championship game, be a factor when the Patriots and Giants clash on Super Sunday?

Gronkowski appeared at media day on Tuesday without the walking boot he had been wearing since suffering the injury. He said the boot was off for good. However, much like his head coach, Bill Belichick, on Monday, Gronkowski shed little light on his chances of playing in less than five days.

"We are going day-by-day," he said. "We are making new steps every day and feeling better every single day. That's a positive sign. You just want to keep going in the right direction. I want to be out there with the team, obviously. ... I am just taking it step-by-step and getting better every single day."

Gronkowski returned to the game briefly after landing awkwardly on his left ankle following a 23-yard reception late in the third quarter against the Ravens. He has not practiced since, however, leaving his status up in the air. Much of what makes New England's offense so difficult to defend is the presence of Gronkowski and fellow TE Aaron Hernandez, who combined for 169 receptions for 2,237 yards and 24 TDs during the regular season. If "Gronk" can't go on Sunday, New England's championship aspirations could be dealt a significant blow.

Hernandez and many of the other Patriots on Tuesday sounded comfortable that Gronkowski would be in the lineup on Sunday, although Gronkowski admitted he was anxious.

"Who wouldn't be anxious to be out there?" Gronkowski said. "It's the Super Bowl, the biggest stage in sports every single year. I am really anxious, so whatever the training staff has to offer, I listen to all of the advice and everything just so I can get out there and help the team."

It's a safe bet Patriots fans and Belichick share Gronkowski's anxiety.

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