Missing out on the Gronk Browl
|12.01.11 at 1:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Last week, Baltimore and San Francisco gave us the Harbowl. This week, we were one pectoral injury from the Gronk Bowl.
If Colts’ fullback Chris Gronkowski hadn’t suffered a pectoral injury earlier this season — which landed him on injured reserve in October — it would have been brother against brother this weekend when the Patriots meet Indy at Gillette Stadium.
“I was definitely looking forward to that,” said his brother Rob. “But he’s on the IR now with surgery. He’s doing well — maybe next year I’ll get him.”
Even with Chris on injured reserve (and brother Dan as an occasional member of the Patriots this season), Rob has done more than enough to carry the family name this season. Through 11 games, he has 60 catches for 864 yards and 11 touchdowns, and will have a chance to add to those numbers this weekend against Indianapolis. Like coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday, Gronkowski said that no matter the 0-11 record, when you turn on the Colts’ film, you see a quality team.
“We see a lot of good players,” Gronkowski said. “They have good D-ends. They’re a really fast team. They have fast linebackers, fast defensive line, fast corners. Fast everything. We just have to go out there and execute. We have to play hard. It doesn’t matter what the records are. This is the NFL. Every team has good players.”
While Gronkowski has made a name as a pass catcher since he arrived prior to the start of last season (earlier this season, he reached 20 touchdowns faster than any tight end in NFL history, breaking the mark set by Mike Ditka), he will also likely be called upon to try and help out as a blocker against Indy’s defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, two of the fastest ends in the league.
“You have to be aware of when they’re going to make a move at all times,” Gronkowski said of the duo, which have a combined 11 sacks on the season. “If they’ll go inside, if they’ll go outside. If they’ll put the spin move on you. You just have to be aware of where those D-ends are going to go because they have so much speed.”
The Patriots put up 24 points in the first half last week against the Eagles, but for much of the season, they’ve struggled with slow starts. (In the previous six-game stretch before last week against Philadelphia, they averaged nine points in the first half.) Gronkowski said a large part of getting off to a fast start involves getting the running game in gear.
“(Just) making plays. Getting the ball down the field and getting the run game going,” he said. “Once we get the run game going, we can do some play action and stuff. Get the ball downfield and get some guys open. Basically going out right from the start and executing well.
“That’s what you want to do,” he added. “You want to find their weaknesses. You want to find the areas where you can get the ball down the field. You want to find the areas where you can get the ball down the field where there are gaps and everything.”
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