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Shutdown Corner

No timetable for Rob Gronkowski’s return, Tim Tebow catching passes at Patriots camp

Shutdown Corner

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The Patriots don't have a timetable on Rob Gronkowski's recovery (USA Today Sports Images)

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was placed on the "Active/Physically Unable to Perform" list at the beginning of training camp. Gronkowski can be removed from that list at any time, but when that might take place is unknown as head coach Bill Belichick said there is no timetable for Gronkowski's return.

With Gronkowski unavailable, and Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead off the roster, the Patriots will have a much different set of receivers for Tom Brady this season. Sorting that group out began with the first practice on Friday, during which Tim Tebow was catching passes.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Tebow caught a pass from No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett "in a weird new drill I've never seen before." Breer added that Tebow continued to catch passes and was lining up with the running backs and receivers during non-contact drills.

Belichick was asked about Tebow's offensive role. His response didn't shed too much light on the matter. 

"I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team," Belichick said, "and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is."

Gronkowski had multiple surgeries on his broken left forearm this offseason and underwent back surgery (specifically a microscopic lumbar discectomy) in mid-June. The expectation was for Gronkowski to be back in late August, which could mean a return for Week 1. However, with Gronkowski spending the offseason having and recovering from surgeries, it would be unrealistic to expect him to be 100 percent in early September.

As Shutdown Corner noted in June, the Patriots using Tebow at tight end makes sense, but expectations on his ability to produce at that position in 2013 should be tempered as he's never played the position at any level.

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