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Gonzalez sees a ‘future’ for Pats rookie tight ends

08.17.10 at 1:13 pm ET
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Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has re-written the record book for his position, holding TE career marks in catches (999), yards (11,807) and TDs (82). The ten-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro has seen hundreds of tight ends come and go during his 13 years in the NFL, but Gonzalez thinks the Patriots might have a couple of keepers in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

“I have watched both tight ends, and they are rookies so they are still learning this game,” Gonzalez said after Tuesday morning’s joint practice session with the Falcons and Patriots. “I do see a future for them. Hernandez with the receiving part of it has got that down. He can keep improving on that. If you are going to be a tight end, and you want to be called a tight end, then you better learn how to block. That is what the position is. With the other tight end [Gronkowski] I think he has a pretty good receiving game and he has got the blocking pretty good.”

Gonzalez, who had his fifth 80-catch season in 2010, knows there is no secret to a long career at the position he has played in NFL since 1997.

“First of all, at the tight end position you have to be a complete tight end,” said Gonzalez. “You can’t just be a receiving tight end, or just a blocking tight end. You have to do both things at a pretty high level. You can do one a little bit better, but something I tell every player coming into the league is that ‘you get out of it what you put into it.’ It is not about what you do at practice it is about what you do before practice and after practice. If you are one of those guys who goes straight in after the horn rings to shower and go home then I don’t think you can be ever as good as you could be.”

The veteran, still chasing a Super Bowl ring, had nothing but praise when asked about the Patriots organization.

“Every time we have played against [New England] them it has been tough,” said Gonzalez, who has a career 2-6 record vs. the Patriots “I respect the hell out of that team. They are well coached and they have great players. It is just great to go against someone to see how they stack up and to see what they do. Maybe you can take something from them and make it apart of your game. We just want to try and get better as a team.”

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