Column: Gronkowski up for game, hopes ankle is

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - He can name the three Kardashian sisters, and he’s got the most talked about body part at the Super Bowl. There’s a billboard in the Boston area touting his “party” line and a “Party Gronk” song enjoying a run on the Internet.

Even coach Bill Belichick can’t stop Rob Gronkowski from having fun _ and he surely was having a lot of it Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. When a television personality told him she agreed to wear a Giants bikini on air if the New Yorkers won the Super Bowl, the Patriots tight end had a ready comeback: “At least there’s a positive if we lose.”

At least he didn’t try to answer in the elementary Spanish he picked up at the University of Arizona, though he surely had to be tempted. His “Yo soy fiesta” line _ translated literally into “I am the party” became an instant smash when he said it following the Patriots win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC title game.

Then again, “Yo soy dia y dia” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

That was Gronkowski’s answer to the most serious question of the day _ how he is healing from the high ankle sprain he suffered late in the third quarter of the conference championship. The fact he considers himself day by day had people listening closely, because a lot of football pundits believe the big guy with the uncanny knack for catching touchdown passes could be a difference maker against the Giants.

Channeling his inner Belichick, Gronkowski allowed as how the walking boot he had been wearing was off. He was working hard with trainers, and hoped against hope he would be healthy enough to play.

Any other questions would have to wait until game day.

“I could be 100 percent by then,” Gronkowski said. “I could be 2 percent by then.”

That’s a big range, though the guess is that Gronkowski will be healed enough to line up on offense Sunday at Lucas Oil Field. His own father said as much last week when he told a radio station in Gronkowski’s hometown of Buffalo that his son was a fast healer and would be ready for the game.

Gordy Gronkowski surely violated team rules set by the tight-lipped Belichick with the injury report, though Gronkowski didn’t seem overly concerned. Just Dad being Dad, pulling for his son to play in the biggest game of his life.

“I’m young. I’m healthy. I hope I’m a quick healer,” he said. “I’m anxious to be out there.”

The Patriots are just as anxious to have Gronkowski out there, following a breakout second season as a pro where he always seemed open anytime Tom Brady looked his way. At 6-foot-6, he was as effective blocking for Brady as he was catching his passes, setting an NFL record for tight ends with 17 touchdown catches and finishing fifth in the league with 90 receptions.

If he plays, the Giants will have to figure out a way to keep him out of the end zone while also containing fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez. Add in wide receiver Wes Welker, and Brady has three possession targets he likes to use in various combinations.

Still, it is Gronkowski’s emergence as a big bruising tight end that has meant the most for the Patriot offense this year.

“This is a player who has written the record books along the way for tight ends,’ Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “Gronkowski certainly is someone Brady looks to in the red zone.”

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