Rob Gronkowski looked “almost Gronk-esque” on Sunday as he practiced in full pads for the first time since having back surgery.
The star tight end for the New England Patriots participated in drills with his teammates during the 15 minutes reporters were allowed to observe the start of practice.
Gronkowski isn’t expected to play in the first few games but wasn’t placed on the physically unable to perform list, a move that would have required him to miss at least the first six games of the season.
“He looked good,” tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. “He looked almost Gronk-esque.”
In his three NFL seasons, Gronkowski has been chosen for two Super Bowls and caught 187 passes for 38 touchdowns despite missing the last five regular-season games last year.
He’s had four operations this year, three on his broken left forearm and one on his back on June 18. He had another forearm surgery last year after breaking it on Nov. 18 while blocking on an extra point against the Indianapolis Colts.
Gronkowski walked into the locker room with a smile Sunday and told reporters he would speak with them later in the week. The other two tight ends were glad to see him working out in pads. During training camp, he frequently watched practice from the sideline while dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.
Chargers trade draft pick
The San Diego Chargers have traded a 2015 conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Dallas Cowboys for defensive tackle Sean Lissemore.
Also on Sunday, the Chargers claimed defensive lineman Drake Nevis from the Indianapolis Colts and linebacker Terrell Manning from the Green Bay Packers.
General Manager Tom Telesco says the moves are to bolster the team’s depth.
To make room on the roster, the Chargers released inside linebacker D.J. Smith and defensive end Brandon Moore, and placed defensive end Damik Scafe on injured reserve.
The Chargers also agreed to a contract with former Arizona Cardinals linebacker and special teams standout Reggie Walker.
Vikings add lineman Webb
The pay cut the Bears gave J’Marcus Webb did not help him make the club, but it might have gotten him a job with the Vikings.
The Vikings claimed the offensive tackle off waivers, acquiring his contract that was reduced from $1.323 million to $630,000 in base salary during the preseason. That savings might have made Webb more attractive to the Vikings, who will be back at Soldier Field in Week 2 of the regular season.
Division opponents know the rosters of their opponents well, and Webb, 25, is a healthy player with 44 career starts.
Bills receive cornerback
The Buffalo Bills were awarded cornerback Brandon Burton off waivers.
Burton, waived Saturday by the Minnesota Vikings, entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2011. The 6-foot, 185-pound cornerback has played in 14 games, making one start. The Bills are without top corner Stephon Gilmore for six to eight weeks due to a broken wrist and have little experience.