Originally posted on NFL Trade Rumors  |  Last updated 12/14/12

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 14: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 14, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Jeff Howe reports that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski returned to practice on Friday. This is definitely a surprise given that he hasn’t been able to do much of anything in the last few weeks since he broke his forearm. It’s hard to assume that he would even have a shot at suiting up this weekend, but it’s certainly possible that he could be in the coming weeks. You could make the case that the Patriots would be the defending Super Bowl champions if Gronkowski was at full strength for last year’s matchup, so it makes sense that New England would want to ensure that he’s at the very least close to full strength before he steps back on the field. There’s no question that this weekend’s matchup against the 49ers is the game of the week.
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