The New England Patriots rolled over most of the NFL in 2016, recovering from a four-game suspension by Tom Brady to finish up with Brady winning a record-breaking fifth Super Bow. One superstar Patriots player that was not part of that game was tight end Rob Gronkowski. The player known as Gronk missed half the games in the regular season and all of the playoffs. However, as OTAs are underway, at least one Assistant Coach says the old Gronkowski is back.

Rob Gronkowski's 2016 season

After two injury-plagued seasons in 2012 and 2013, Rob Gronkowski thought that was all behind him when he posted back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons with a total of 23 touchdowns in 2014 and 2015.

However, 2016 saw Gronkowski back in the New England Patriots training room and off the NFL field once again.

It started at the beginning of the season where Rob Gronkowski missed the first two games with a hamstring injury and then was limited for the next two. He was back when Tom Brady returned from his suspension and the New England Patriots were rolling. However, in Week 10, an Earl Bennett hit caused a pulmonary contusion and then he suffered a back injury when he returned in Week 12.

That was the end of the season for Rob Gronkowski, who had to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc. The New England Patriots put Gronk on the IR and won the Super Bowl without him. The Patriots did add him onto their Super Bowl roster so he could win a ring despite not playing in the game.

Back to being Gronkowski

On Thursday of last week, Rob Gronkowski was practicing along with Tom Brady in OTAs. Brady threw a touchdown pass to brand new receiver Brandin Cooks and then on the next play threw a second touchdown pass to Gronk. The New England Patriots were pumped up. Despite burning his own safety on the way to the touchdown in practice, Gronk leaped up with a reverse chest bump to teammates James Develin and Julian Edelman to celebrate.

It was clear that Gronk was happy to be back on the field.

New England Patriots Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was happy to see Rob Gronkowski out there as well. According to McDaniels, he looked like Gronk out on the practice field and is involved in everything that the Patriots are doing right now. McDaniels also said that Gronk is working well as a leader and a positive influence on younger players and newcomers to the Patriots organization. With the Patriots adding the most weapons that Tom Brady has ever worked with, a healthy and excited Gronk is icing on the cake.