Rob Gronkowski is ready to ‘dig in big’ for the start of the season
|09.02.12 at 1:33 pm ET|
His left ankle has been repaired and healed, he has a six-year, $53 million extension and now, he’s ready to try and put up an encore to the best season ever posted by an NFL tight end.
‘Definitely anxious,” Gronkowski said Sunday morning in front of his locker. “I’m always excited to get the season started. Tennessee is a good opponent. First game of the season, always get the jitters, always ready to go and always excited for the game to come.
‘College football started this week and it was exciting watching all that and it just gets you more excited for the game to come.’
Gronkowski caught an NFL-record 17 touchdowns and ran for another in amassing 1,397 yards last season as Tom Brady‘s most-productive target. But all of that doesn’t matter now to him. All that matters is getting ready for the 2012 season opener Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. against the Titans.
‘Yes, you dig in big, physically, mentally, everything,” he said. “You’re getting ready. It’s game-time now. This is what counts. This is what starts the season is this game. Everything from here on out matters.’
The release of veteran wide receiver Deion Branch on Friday caught many by surprise, including those inside the Patriots locker room like Gronkowski.
‘That shows the business side of the NFL and it’s always tough to see your friends go,” Gronkowski said Sunday. “Your friends, people who were your mentors, guys you look up to and it’s tough seeing them go. It’s part of the business but at the same time, you wish them the best of luck and hopefully everything works out for everyone that you see go. It’s definitely a tough time.
‘He’s just a great guy overall. He taught so much on the field, how to practice, how to stay motivated out there, how to do the rep right so we don’t have to repeat it. He’s a great guy, always love talking to him and will always be in touch with him.’
Gronkowski is entering his third NFL season and he said Sunday that Branch was one of the veterans who helped him and others in the Patriots passing games. The passing attack now features Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, with a third receiver likely not to play as prominent of a role as in past seasons.
‘I think of that on days like last Friday when you see people go,” Gronkowski said. “Man, that could be me one day so it’s definitely the business side of the NFL and you just have to keep working hard every week, keeping working out, keep practicing hard, keep doing what you have to do so you can stay around.
‘It just shows it’s pretty crazy seeing your friends go but that’s last week now and just focus on the game now, Tennessee. Just going to be preparing hard, mentally, physically getting ready.’
2017 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2017 NFL DRAFT
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Mike Gillislee's Patriots Contract Offer Sheet Declined by Bills
- Malcolm Butler Reportedly 'Highly Unlikely' to Be Traded Despite Saints...
- Patriots Schedule 2017-18: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Entire Season
- 2017 New England Patriots Schedule: Full Listing of Dates, Times and TV...
- Chiefs vs. Patriots to Open 2017 NFL Regular Season Schedule in...
- Patriots Favored in Updated Super Bowl 52 Odds Ahead of 2017 NFL Draft
- After Aaron Hernandez Suicide, Victim's Family Speaks: 'I Just Started...