INDIANAPOLIS — The boot is off and Rob Gronkowski's ankle is feeling much better.
New England's All-Pro tight end shed his walking boot in time for media day Tuesday, and sounded optimistic he'd line up against the Giants in Sunday's Super Bowl.
"I'm improving every day," Gronkowski said. "The only reason it's getting so blown up is because it's the Super Bowl. It's just like any other injury during any other week."
Gronkowski, who suffered a high left ankle sprain Jan. 22 in the AFC title game, said he could be anywhere from in perfect health to "2 percent" for the game, adding that there is still time before it is played.
He smiled frequently from the podium in an hour-long appearance that opened with a question, of course, about how he was feeling.
"Good. How are you feeling?" he replied.
"He's obviously making progress," QB Tom Brady said of his key pass-catcher. "He's out of his boot today, which makes me feel a lot better. I told him he should write like 'Mom I love you' on his sock or something because I'm sure there'll be a lot of pictures of his sock.
"If anybody wants to be out there, it's him. No one's as tough as him."
PEYTON'S INTENT: If any player not with the Patriots or Giants was sure to draw attention this week, it's Colts QB Peyton Manning.
And he reiterated that, after missing the season with a neck injury, he isn't ready to retire.
"I have no plans on doing that," he said at an Indianapolis hotel, shortly after media day activities. "My plan hasn't changed. I'm on track with what the doctors have told me to do, and I'm doing that. I'm rehabbing hard."
All the attention focused on his condition is misplaced, Manning said earlier in a taped interview with ESPN. "I really don't think it will be as the week goes on."
MEDIA MADNESS: More than 5,000 media credentials were issued for Sunday's game. And this year, for the first time, fans could buy tickets to watch the one-hour question-and-answer sessions during media day.
More than 7,000 tickets were sold at $25 apiece for fans to sit in the stands of Lucas Oil Stadium
"We're the social media generation," Mike Galford, a 27-year-old finance manager at a local car dealership, said as he watched from the grandstand. "We're not going to wait for the media to tell us what happened on media day. We're going to see it for ourselves. This is awesome."
NFL officials were equally content.
"I can think of more exciting ways to spend the day," Giants co-owner John Mara said with a smile as the media availability was ending. "But the fans seem to be enjoying it very much. Not many have left."
Players went along, occasionally speaking directly to the fans.
"You all having a good time?" Patriots CB Patrick Chung shouted to the crowd like a comic doing a stand-up routine. "This is crazy, man. I've got my own audience."
ILL PATS: Three Patriots are dealing with illnesses. OTs Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer skipped media day, coach Bill Belichick said. LB Jerod Mayo attended but said he has a cold.