The tight end, who broke his arm in Week 11 last season and reinjured it in the first quarter of the Patriot's first playoff game, practiced in full pads with the team for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right forearm and lower back.
The Patriots "hope" Gronk will return by September 22's Week 3 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Otherwise, he definitely "will be playing in Week 4" against the Atlanta Falcon, said NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.
A return for Gronkowski would certainly open up options for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been forced to rely on the ground game with wide receiver Danny Amendola sidelined for two to six weeks with a groin injury and running back Shane Vereen out until at least Week 8 after undergoing wrist surgery.
Still, New England has had a decent start to their season, taking victories in the first two weeks of regular play and winning three of four preseason match-ups.