Both the Giants and Patriots returned to the practice field in earnest yesterday (after each releasing practice reports without actually suiting up on Wednesday). While New York had a number of individuals sidelined because of injury, the Patriots had just one rather large one. Rob Gronkowski, New England's nine-foot-tall, tackle-smashing, touchdown-catching, battering ram of a tight end was a "DNP" because of a left-ankle injury suffered in last Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Ravens. (If you missed the play, here's Bernard Pollard kinda just sitting on Gronkowski's lower leg while tackling him. That'll do it.) The injury is believed to be a high ankle sprain, and has reportedly left "Gronk" clunking around in a boot for the time being.
Gronkowski's status for the Super Bowl remains a mystery. All New England personnel questioned about the injury provided the expected "we'll see" responses, so it's anyone's guess whether Gronkowski will be healthy enough to play next Sunday. High ankle sprains (particularly those as vicious as the one in question) tend to have lengthy recovery times, but it's hard to imagine a dude as horrifyingly virile as Gronkowski shutting it down completely.
Whatever the case may be, the Patriots have already set a contingency plan in motion. Gronkowski's pal Aaron Hernandez is ready and practicing, and they've added Carson Butler (not to be mistaken with Caron of the L.A. Clippers) to the practice squad. Butler has been part of the New England organization before, including some time with the practice squad in 2010 and another stint with the team this past summer.
Odds are Gronkowski takes the field, though, and whether he's hobbled or not, you can be certain the Giants are preparing as best they can to contain him.