Over the past two seasons, Gronkowski has missed just two games because of injury

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The New England Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured his deal for the 2017 season, giving him a chance to become the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.

Gronkowski, 28, hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2011, his second year in the league. Including the playoffs, he has missed 30 of the team’s 92 games over the past five seasons. The tight end has played fewer than 400 snaps in two of the past four years, including a 2016 Super Bowl season that was ended early by his third-career back surgery.

Limited to eight games last season, Gronkowski declared himself “100 percent” and “good to go” while speaking with reporters after the first practice of the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp. “Just being able to compete, conditioning-wise, strength-wise, in the weight room, being out on the field with teammates, being able to play football, it’s great,” he said after a rainy workout. “It’s always important to me, whenever I get a little setback like that, to get back to where I need to be. I feel like I am — doing everything out here, competing. It’s fun.”

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who underwent season-ending back surgery in December, told ESPN’s Cari Champion that he “no doubt” will be ready for the start of the 2017 season. His most recent back surgery was Gronkowski’s third. He had two previous surgeries to repair herniated disks in his back — in 2009, when he was at the University of Arizona and missed the entire season, and in 2013, his fourth season with the Patriots, when he underwent surgery in June and didn’t return until Week 7.

Gronkowski finished the 2016 season with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns, and he watched from the sideline as his teammates rallied past the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI and hoist the Lombardi trophy.

Media members will have access to practice for the first time Thursday, a session that follows the closed practices from Monday and Tuesday this week. The Patriots practiced Thursday afternoon inside Gillette Stadium. Before practice, coach Bill Belichick was asked about his level of concern regarding Gronkowski and said, “We’ll list the players after practice like we do every day.”

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The New England Patriots and Rob Gronkowski’s family released a joint statement Thursday night confirming that the star tight end will undergo back surgery Friday, while saying, “We do not expect that he will be able to play for the remainder of the 2016 season, but will await the results of tomorrow’s surgery before making a final determination.”

On the official Patriots practice report Thursday night, Gronkowski was listed with knee and back injuries.Gronkowski practiced Monday, was held out of the Patriots’ full-pads practice Tuesday and was listed as a limited participant Wednesday.

In previewing the opening week of New England Patriots voluntary organized team activities, one of the items to watch on the wholesale nfl jerseys personal checklist was if tight end Rob Gronkowski’s progress from back surgery had reached a point that he is doing drills on the field with teammates.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski spent part of Thursday in a Boston hospital getting treatment on his injured right knee, which included an injection, according to a source familiar with the procedure. It has been commonplace for the Patriots to hold back Gronkowski in recent years after he injured his forearm and knee in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Over the past two seasons, Gronkowski has missed just two games because of injury.

The statement also said, “With the help of the Patriots’ medical staff, along with the consultation of several medical experts, it has been determined that it is in Rob’s best long-term interest to undergo surgery to address his lower back injury.

Gronkowski has been showing up for workouts all offseason. He also wasn’t on the field in the last practice open to reporters, a voluntary organized team activity on May 26.

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“Rob has always been one of our hardest workers and was voted captain for the leadership he provides on our team. We are deeply saddened any time a player is lost to injury. We are committed to assisting Rob throughout his recovery and look forward to his return to playing football for the New England Patriots.” nike-patriots-87-rob-gronkowski-white-mens-stitched-nfl-vapor-untouchable-limited-jersey

The Patriots will hold their three-day mandatory minicamp this week from Tuesday to Thursday, and Gronkowski is looking forward to building on the foundation of the past two weeks.

“You just have to always look at the positives,” he said. “Right now I’m feeling great. I’m feeling good out there with the team. We’re just at the stage right now, OTAs, offseason workouts, just getting to know each other, feeling it all out. Everything is going good. So I’m just happy to be where I am, happy to be out on the field playing football and participating.”

“Obviously we’re all disappointed,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday. “Nobody has worked harder than Rob and been a better teammate. So hopefully things will work out positively as possible with him. All the information we gave you is really all we have for now. I’m sure there will be more coming in as we go through the next few days. So we’ll just take it as it comes. It’s an unfortunate situation for him.”

Gronkowski played seven snaps in the 22-17 win over the Jets, leaving the game late in the first quarter as he walked off under his own power while accompanied by members of the team’s medical staff. The team later announced he had sustained a back injury during the game and would not return.

It was unclear on what play Gronkowski was hurt. It could have happened on a third-and-7 with 9:04 remaining in the first quarter; Gronkowski was the intended receiver on a deep pass down the middle of the field as he dived for the ball. But Gronkowski played one more series after that play, and he was the intended receiver on an incomplete pass down the right sideline on a third-and-4 before walking off.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said Tuesday that he has no restrictions as he returns from back surgery that ended his 2016 regular season early. Gronkowski reported that there were “no setbacks” after his return last Thursday. He was limited to three snaps in the second half but probably would have played more if the Patriots weren’t so far ahead in the game.