Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski likened the rib injury he suffered in a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams to what it might feel like getting shot.
"I never got shot before, but that's kind of like what it felt like," Gronkowski told reporters Friday.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection previously told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer he suffered four cracked ribs, one broken rib and a punctured lung against the Rams, which forced him to miss four weeks, including a potential reunion game against the New England Patriots.
Gronkowski made a short-lived return for a Week 8 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but he suffered a back injury that forced him to miss last week's loss to the Washington Football Team after the team's Week 9 bye.
The 32-year-old University of Arizona product said Friday the back problems are more of a long-standing problem:
"I mean, I definitely had a lot of back issues. I mean, it's not like it's hidden. I mean, everyone knows that. I've had a few back surgeries. Missed a couple times with it. So I would just say, just gotta be careful with the things I do. With the type of rehab I'm doing and everything like that and also just be aware of it when coming back and just being noteworthy of it. That's really all. I mean, other than that, I mean, I think it's good to go."
Gronk, who was a full participant in the Bucs' first two practices this week, suggested he'll be ready to roll for a Monday Night Football matchup with the New York Giants.
His return should provide a boost to a Tampa Bay squad looking to get back on track after back-to-back losses. The veteran tight end was off to a strong start before the injuries, tallying 16 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns through three games.
Gronkowski, who briefly retired in 2019, returned last year and caught two touchdowns in the Super Bowl en route to his fourth championship ring.