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Rob Gronkowski on his return to field: ‘Everything’s all smooth. Everything’s good’ 06.13.16 at 2:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The smile told it all Monday afternoon outside Gillette Stadium.

Rob Gronkowski broke into his trademark grin as he addressed reporters for the second time in three days but for the first time since returning to the practice field Monday during OTAs.

“It felt great. It’s always good to be out there with your teammates, working with your teammates in individual drills, team drills,” Gronkowski said. “Just being out there, getting on the same page and just going into a flow with them. It’s always good to get back on the field.”

Gronkowski spent most of the session working on passing drills with Tom Brady and new tight end Martellus Bennett. Then he took some turns lining up in two-minute drills with no defense. He took part in a limited number of reps with the offense as they lined up in the non-contact, no pads practice against the defense.

Gronkowski also indicated, when asked, that last week’s absence at mandatory mini-camp was not necessarily injury-related and that he was with the team at Gillette Stadium.

“I was just doing other things, as Coach said, last week,” Gronkowski said. “Everything’s good. We were just working on other things. Everything’s all smooth, everything’s good.”

So what, exactly, is the biggest value at this point of OTAs to him?

“The biggest value is consistency, going out there and making sure you’re still on the same page,” he said. “You don’t want to lose it. You want to keep on getting gains. You want to improve on improving, go out there and make sure to knock all the rust out, we’re always on the same page and just don’t lose it. So, keep going out, working hard and getting better.”

Gronkowski said this year doesn’t feel any different than any other spring OTA sessions since he’s been in New England.

“It’s OTAs. It feels the same every time now, every year, so just go out there, keep your football legs under you, which is great, running routes, stay in football shape,” Gronkowski said. “What is cool about it is it brings the competitiveness out of you. You just can’t go out there in your backyard or just out on the field and just throwing with the quarterbacks. Going versus someone, having someone across from you gets you back in that right feeling, like it’s a game.”

Gronkowski said he’s pumped about sharing time with Bennett.

“It’s great. It’s great to be out there with him,” he said. “It’s another guy that brings a lot of football knowledge to the game, in the meeting rooms. I think he’s going on his ninth year. He has so much experience and he’s been with a few teams, been with a few coaches. He’s played all around. So, it’s great to get so much knowledge from him and the coaches. And going out on the field, he’s a hard worker. He puts some dedication in so it’s great to be with him out there.”

Read More: Gronk, Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots, OTA's
Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable talk Malcolm Butler, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Dobson 06.07.16 at 3:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable discuss the debut of Malcolm Butler at Patriots mini-camp, his contract status and what to make of the absence of an apparently healthy Rob Gronkowski, who missed the mandatory workout Tuesday outside Gillette Stadium. The pair also discuss an impressive workout from wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who caught a long touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo in 11-on-11 drills.

Read More: 2016 minicamp, Aaron Dobson, Gronk, Jimmy Garoppolo
Luke Kuechly thinks Doug Flutie ‘is still the guy’ at Boston College 02.04.16 at 5:36 pm ET
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Luke Kuechly speaks Thursday at the final media availability in San Jose. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Luke Kuechly speaks Thursday at the final media availability in San Jose. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — As he was making his rounds through both the Broncos and Panthers media camps on Thursday, Snoop Dogg made a point to stop by and say hi to Luke Kuechly and pay him some might high praise.

“You’re the best linebacker in football, man,” the rap legend said. “Take it from Snoop.”

All the humble linebacker could muster with a wide grin was “thanks, thanks a lot!”

Snoop is not alone. There are many in the game right now, both on and off the field who think that the Boston College product might just be the best all-around linebacker in football. That has prompted the conversation of where Kuechly, who left after his junior year in 2012, belongs in the great pantheon of Boston College football players. Matt Ryan was selected by the Falcons third overall in 2008. Four years later, it was Kuechly going ninth overall to the Panthers.

“I don’t know about the best player. We’ve had a lot of good guys come out. We’ve had some linebackers that have come out. Bill Romanowski was a great player. Mark Herzlich‘s been a great player. Matt Ryan and Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo and I’m sure I’m missing guys. Those guys came out and did a great job.”

But of all the great NFL talent that Boston College has produced, Kuechly pointed to another BC product that had a much bigger impact in the CFL than the NFL.

“Doug Flutie to me is Mr. BC,” Kuechly said. “He’s got a statue in front of the stadium. He’s won the Heisman. He’s going to go down as one of the players that has one of the all-time plays in college football history. Doug Flutie, if you talk about people from Boston College, Doug Flutie, I think, is still the guy.”

While that was all nice and flowery, there are a lot of Patriots fans who still fume when they see the All-American smile. That’s, of course, because of his WWE hold on Rob Gronkowski in the end zone on the game’s last play in Nov. 2013 on a Monday night game that allowed the Panthers to escape, 24-20.

“”Of course, of course, everyone was giving me grief for it,” Kuechly said. “We had a couple of guys that we played with that are Massachusetts guys that are big Patriots fans. You go to school in Boston, there are going to be buddies that are off the team that you’re friends with so. They’re giving me some grief for it but it’s all fun and games.”

Read More: Boston College, Carolina Panthers, Doug Flutie, Gronk
Rob Gronkowski on getting held down: ‘I’ve been used to that all year’ 01.25.16 at 2:02 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski (87) was up against physical play all day in Denver.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Rob Gronkowski (87) was up against physical play all day in Denver. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

DENVER — Just because you’re getting used to dealing with the the short end of the stick doesn’t make it any easier to take at the end of the day.

Just ask Rob Gronkowski, who endured dehydration and constant tugging and pulling from Broncos defenders all day during a 20-18 loss to the Broncos Sunday at Sports Authority Field. And for all the talk this season about how much Gronkowski was getting called for offensive pass interference, it was Gronkowski who appeared to be getting held back all day.

“I’€™ve been used to that all year,” Gronkowski said. “It happens. That’€™s football, but I’€™ve got to do what I’€™ve got to do to get open. They called one or two penalties of holding. It was a good call on the one ‘€“ he had my jersey ‘€“ but overall, you’€™ve just got to go out and execute as an offense and not really worry about holding penalties and all that. You’€™ve just got to go out and execute.”

Chipping Gronkowski and being physical with him and other Patriots receivers was clearly part of the Broncos defensive game plan coming in. But it wasn’t a hit at the line of scrimmage but rather a tug in the end zone that a lot fans and Gronkowski will remember about Sunday.

On fourth-and-6 at the Broncos 14, Tom Brady faded back and threw a “Hail Mary” type of jump ball to Gronkowski at the goal post at the back of the end zone. As Gronkowski went up, it appeared he was being held down by Aqib Talib.

“Was I held? I don’€™t know. I felt like I was because I couldn’€™t even jump,” Gronkowski said. “I felt like Aqib had me. He’€™s probably going to be texting me later and be like, ‘€˜Yo, I was holding you, bro.’€™ I felt like he was but sometimes you go back and you look at it and he wasn’€™t. It is what it is, though. I think the ball was going out of bounds on that anyways, too, but we fought on the next drive and we did what we had to do to score.”

Gronkowski finally got his touchdown with 12 seconds left when Brady found him curling in the back of the end zone.

“I think it was double [coverage],” Gronkowski said. “They had a guy outside, a guy inside. Just made a move. I had a route to go either way, and when I saw the guy inside, the guy outside, I was just like, ‘€˜Screw it. I’€™ve got to go whatever way it is.’€™ I went out. Tom just threw it up in the air and just had to go up and make a play.”

The Patriots finished 2-for-4 in the red zone, one conversion short of winning the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Denver Broncos, Gronk, New England Patriots
‘It Is What It Is’ podcast: Chris Price, Mike Petraglia explain why Patriots have big advantages in AFC title game 01.21.16 at 6:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Chris Price and Mike Petraglia break down why this AFC championship in Denver should be a much different story than two years ago, and even different than Nov. 29, when the Patriots blew a 21-7 fourth quarter lead and lost in overtime. With Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman at full strength for Tom Brady, the game could come down to how well the Patriots stop the run.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, AFC Championship, Chris Price, Denver Broncos
Tom Brady happy to have Rob Gronkowski this time around in AFC championship at 1:26 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are both very emotional players. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are both very emotional players. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Two years ago, the setting was identical. The personnel groupings were not.

Two years ago, an undermanned Tom Brady went into Denver with the likes of Matthew Slater, Austin Collie, Aaron Dobson and tight end Matthew Mulligan catching passes. Rob Gronkowski was not available because he suffered a torn ACL when current Broncos safety T.J. Ward (then with the Browns) went low in a game at Gillette Stadium in December.

Last year, with a healthy Gronk, the Patriots won the Super Bowl. After a scare on Nov. 29 in Denver, Gronk is back and appears to be ready to make amends for his absence two years ago at Sports Authority Field.

“Yeah, a couple years ago that was a big challenge to go in there and beat them. They were on fire that year, and we just got off to a slow start that game,” Brady recalled Thursday. “So, we just played from behind the entire game. [We] made a couple of plays at the end, but it really wasn’€™t that close. We’€™ve got to get off to a much better start this week.”

Brady’s relationship with Gronkowski is as close as anyone’s on the team, with the possible exception of Julian Edelman, who had 10 catches on 15 targets that day for 89 yards. Now, in a hostile environment, Brady won’t be forced to lock in on Edelman like he was that day.

“We’€™re in constant [communication]. Quarterback, receiver, tight end, we’€™re always in constant communication,” Brady said. “There are only so many skill guys you have, so you’€™re always talking to the guys that you’€™re throwing the ball to, and the kind of adjustments that I expect, and the new plays that are put in, and body language stuff that they need to do on certain routes so I can anticipate throws. It’€™s all the time.”

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Denver Broncos, Gronk, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski responds: ‘Everyone wants to see collisions. I’m ready to give some’ at 1:06 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski was hardly offended by the Broncos defensive players saying they’re going to go low on the Patriots tight end to bring him down on Sunday.

Chris Harris announced on Tuesday that the best way to bring Gronkowski to the ground was to hit him in the knees.

His reaction at the podium Thursday at Gillette Stadium: Bring it on.

“It’s part of the game,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve been seeing it all year, been seeing it my whole career. Just got to get low, get my shoulder down, protect the ball. Just protect myself in any way when I see a lot of guys coming, when I know there’s not a chance to make that many yards. Just possibly go down on that play. But if you can make a play, try to make a play, make more yards. But at the same time, just got to watch out, get your pads down. It’s football so you’ve got to be ready for contact at all times.”

Of course, it was in Denver on Nov. 29 when safety Darian Stewart went low at Gronk’s right knee and took him out late in the fourth quarter. He was taken off the field on a cart.

Has that moment made him reconsider his approach about going after more yards or making a catch?

“Nah, not really. Been playing for a while now. I’ve been seeing a lot of defenses and players out there. I’ve been hit a lot,” Gronkowski said. “Just my mentality, my game speed. I just like to go full speed at all times. Just whatever it is, it is. It’s football. Everyone wants to see collisions. I’m ready to give some.”

Gronkowski went even further Thursday by acknowledging that the Broncos aren’t doing anything dirty. They are doing whatever they can to bring the receiver down to the ground within the rules.

“It’s just part of the game,” Gronkowski said. “They’re not doing anything illegal out there. It’s just part of the game. Just got to be aware of it. Maybe just got to step up my game a little bit, maybe throw a juke. I don’t know how many jukes I’ve got but I’ve just got to be aware for it. It’s football and it’s just part of the game.”

Then there’s the little matter of his tweet in response to the Broncos pronouncement of a low-blow game plan. Any regrets for going to social media?

“Nah, I was just having a little fun with it,” Gronkowski said. “Hoping to get a little laughs, which I think it did. So, it’s just all fun and games with that.”

Plan on saying anything more? “No, I’m good,” Gronkowski said with his trademark giggle.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Denver Broncos, Gronk, New England Patriots
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