FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots appear to be taking the long view with Rob Gronkowski, knowing their chances in January are best when their game-changing tight end is at full strength.

Or at least close to it.

Listed as questionable with back and ankle injuries, Gronkowski would not commit to playing against Tennessee, calling it a “coach’s decision.”

However, multiple reports indicate that Gronkowski will not play, with the Patriots hoping some rest in November will allow Gronkowski to recapture his top form down the stretch.

Speaking Friday, Gronkowski made it clear that he badly wants to return to his usual dominance.

“It’s been more challenging, just with the obstacles in the way,” Gronkowski said of his 2018 season. “But it’s life. You’ve got to take them on, and that’s what I’m doing. Just got to get back to where I need to be and just be myself when I get back. It’ll all be good.”

With Gronkowski unlikely to play in Week 10 and the team on a Week 11 bye, he’ll have 27 days off before potentially returning to action in Week 12 against the Jets in New York.

Gronkowski did not play in Week 7 at the Bears or Week 9 versus the Packers.

“Just working hard right now,” he said. “That’s the track I’m looking at. I just see positivity. I see it going strong in the future.”

Gronkowski hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. He’s been targeted only twice in the red zone all year. He’s in a slump statistically, but has still been an important part of the New England offense. His average of 64 receiving yards per game is 13 fewer than the 2017 season and the lowest since his rookie season.

Gronkowski ranks fourth among NFL tight ends in receiving yards per game, trailing Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz and San Francisco’s George Kittle.

It’s an unfamiliar spot for Gronkowski, who has been the league’s most dominant tight end throughout the majority of his career.

“The most important thing is to be contributing to the team and being out there with the boys,” Gronkowski said.

LEFT TACKLE Trent Brown was at practice Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday with an illness. He’s questionable for Sunday.

STRONG SAFETY Obi Melifonwu, a second-round pick in 2017, opted to sign with the Patriots, his hometown team, after being released by Oakland.

He grew up 40 minutes northwest of Gillette Stadium and rooted for the Patriots as a kid.

“Lawyer Milloy, Rodney Harrison are two I definitely watched,” Melifonwu said. “I was a huge fan.”

Coach Bill Belichick indicated the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Melifonwu “possibly” could have some positional versatility.

“We’ve really only had him for a couple of days so we’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said. “He has good size. He’s smart. He learns quickly. He’s athletic. We’ll see what he can do. I don’t know.”

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