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Rob Gronkowski won't start on PUP

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play by doctors and will not be placed on the active/physically unable to perform list to open training camp, coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday.

This puts Gronkowski in position to be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at Miami. He said last week that he plans to play the full 16-game schedule.

Gronkowski, who was limited to seven games last season, underwent surgery on his right ACL on Jan. 9.

"It's a positive," said veteran offensive lineman Logan Mankins, one of the Patriots' captains. "We were all hoping Gronk would have a good recovery, and so far he has. Any time you can have Gronk on the field, it's great."

The Patriots' first training camp practice is Thursday. Gronkowski spent the majority of the offseason working out at the team's facility, yet his expected presence registers as a bit of a surprise.

"I'm happy to see his progress and see him coming into this season and staying healthy; obviously, that's what everyone is talking about," defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "I don't want to speak on his behalf, but he's one of the hardest-working guys I've ever seen as well."

Added Belichick: "Rob's always worked hard when he's here."

Gronkowski's work ethic is sometimes overlooked because he's often in the headlines for having fun.

"Gronk is Gronk. 'Yo soy fiesta,' right?" Ninkovich cracked. "Personality-wise, he's one of the best guys you could ever meet. He's a great guy off the field who will say hi to anybody and do anything for you."

Gronkowski's presence alters the complexion of the Patriots' offense because of his combination of effective blocking and pass-catching ability, but his availability has been a question mark the past two seasons. After playing in all 16 regular-season games in each of his first two seasons, he has played just 18 of 32 since because of forearm and knee injuries.

"I'm planning on playing the whole season this year," Gronkowski said last week. "I'm always antsy to get back on the field, no matter when it is. I just want to play football. I love playing the game."

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