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  • FOOTBALL

    Patriots' Gronkowski cleared to play

  • FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski was a training camp spectator last summer while recovering from surgery.
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  • FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski was a training camp spectator last summer while recovering from surgery.
    This summer, after another operation, the New England Patriots star tight end is expected to be on the field for the first practice today.
    "He's been cleared to play," coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday.
    That's welcome news to his teammates after a season in which Gronkowski played just seven regular-season games. He missed the first six following back surgery about a month before camp and the last three, plus both playoff games, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
    "We were all hoping Gronk would have a good recovery and so far he has," Patriots left guard Logan Mankins said. "We'll just see where he is, how good he is right now. It's great to have him out there."
    The team could use his sure-handed receiving, powerful blocking and fun-loving personality.
    Gronkowski stayed healthy his first two seasons after the Patriots drafted him out of Arizona in the second round in 2010. He played all 32 regular-season games with 132 receptions and 27 touchdown catches.
    But while blocking for an extra point in the 11th game of 2012, a 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts, he broke his left forearm. That injury ended a season in which he had 55 catches for 11 touchdowns and was chosen for his second consecutive Pro Bowl even though he couldn't play.
    He had four forearm surgeries and a back operation. He watched training camp practices from the sideline, often wearing a T-shirt and shorts. His first practice in pads came last Sept. 1, seven days before the season opener.
    After missing the first six games, he led all NFL tight ends in the next six with 37 catches and 560 yards receiving.
    But his second reception in the next game was his last of the season. Safety T.J. Ward knocked him down with a hit to the right knee in a 27-26 win over the Cleveland Browns in Foxborough on Dec. 8.
    Gronkowski was driven off the field on a cart. He underwent surgery in January.
    Seahawks
    Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday after an injury-filled career that included issues with concussions.
    The Seahawks announced Rice's decision two days before the start of training camp. The news was first reported by Pro Football Talk.
    Rice played seven seasons and is retiring at age 27.
    Rice missed half of last season with the Seahawks after tearing his ACL against St. Louis. Rice re-signed with Seattle in the offseason on a $1 million, one-year deal. But he was going to be pushed to make the Seahawks' final roster with the additions of draft picks Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood and a healthy Percy Harvin.
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