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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, Rob Gronkowski from Phoenix 01.28.15 at 6:28 pm ET
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PHOENIX — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Day 3 of Patriots Super Bowl week in Phoenix, including the latest on Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, LeGarrette Blount, Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick.

Read More: Chris Price, Darrelle Revis, Gronk, Mike Petraglia
Rob Gronkowski explains why this healthy playoff run means so much: ‘I can’t take it for granted’ 01.06.15 at 10:41 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski could be a scary sight for the Ravens Saturday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski could be a scary sight for the Ravens Saturday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski doesn’t take this time of year for granted. There’s good reason for that.

In Jan. 2012, he caught five passes on eight targets for 87 yards before badly turning his ankle against the Ravens in the AFC championship. That was a game the Patriots held on to win, 23-20 and advance to the Super Bowl. A week earlier he caught 10 passes on 12 targets and three touchdowns in a 45-10 romp over the Broncos. In the Super Bowl, a limited Gronk caught just two passes for 26 yards and no touchdowns.

A year later, he broke his forearm against the Colts in November and came back against Houston in the divisional round, only to break it again. He missed the AFC championship against the Ravens, a 28-13 loss to Baltimore.

Then last year, he was on the road back when he had his knee taken out by T.J. Ward. He missed the playoffs as the Patriots fell short against the Broncos in the AFC championship.

Now, Gronk, who got Week 17 off just to be sure he’s 100 percent, is back in the playoffs for the first time in two years and is ready to contribute.

“It’€™s always special just being in the playoffs overall,” said Gronkowski, who caught 82 balls for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. “It’€™s a very difficult season throughout the whole NFL, and it’€™s just awesome being part of it. I can’€™t take it for granted. You’€™ve got to work your tail off and keep preparing hard and go out there and play to the best of my ability.”

When Gronkowski spoke Tuesday, it was after a full pads practice in bitter cold. He was grunting and groaning at the start of the workout as he tried to warm up.

“It feels good,” Gronkowski said. “It feels good just to be back out there on the practice field, practicing hard as a team, practicing together as a team. We’€™ve just got to keep working hard.

“It’€™s just like any other week. We’€™re trying to go out there and we’€™re trying to execute on the practice field. We’€™re trying to stick together as one, execute, everybody on the same page, all the chemistry the same between the receivers, quarterbacks, tight ends, linemen, running backs ‘€“ whatever it is. So, just going out at practice and practicing hard and preparing.”

Gronkowski is finally looking to take on the Ravens at full strength for 60 minutes, something he missed in 2012 and 2013.

“They’€™re a very challenging, tough team,” Gronkowski said. “They’€™ve got a lot of good players, they’€™re fast, they’€™re physical, and they’€™re always prepared and they’€™re always ready. So, we’€™ve got to keep practicing hard and preparing mentally and physically, and we’€™ve got to be ready. They’€™re always challenging and they’€™re always very tough.

“They’€™re a very physical team. Their front line is very big and very physical, and you just can’€™t go out there and be soft. They’€™ve got very good players. They’€™re always physically and mentally ready. It’€™s going to be a challenge and it’€™s going to be tough, no doubt. We’€™ve got to go out there and execute and be prepared.”

They’€™re a very good team, no doubt about that. They bring it. That’€™s what impresses [me] the most is that they bring it. It’€™s not just one play or two plays. They bring it every play. I’€™ve got to be ready and be prepared.’€

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, Gronk, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski is ‘expecting to play the whole game’ Sunday vs. Bills 12.23.14 at 8:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Most Patriots fans wouldn’t mind seeing Rob Gronkowski get the entire game off on Sunday against the Bills in a game with no impact on the team’s playoff position. As a matter of fact, most fans figure why risk losing an indispensable part of the offense?

But that’s not how football players think and certainly not one that loves to hit and get hit like the Patriots all-world tight end.

Asked about his expectations on playing time in Sunday’s regular season finale and playoff tune up against the Bills, Gronk said he’s mentally prepared to play all 60 minutes.

“I’€™m preparing to my ability that I do every single week,” Gronkowski said. “I’€™m preparing to my max and expecting to play the whole game.”

This might come as a surprise to those thinking Gronkowski, who’s made a remarkable recovery from ACL reconstruction 11 months ago, would get the game off. As Gronkowski reminded everyone Tuesday, a player never assumes the day off unless told so in advance. Gronk said Tuesday he’s not been told anything (yet) but be ready to play Sunday.

Gronkowski has caught 82 passes for a team-high 1,182 yards and a team best 12 touchdowns. In 2011, Gronkowski set the all-time single season touchdown and yardage marks for a tight end in the season finale, outdistancing New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham. There are no such records on the line Sunday.

Gronkowski is also coming off a game in which he played in all 64 offensive snaps against the Jets.

“It feels good,” Gronkowski said. “It feels back to normal. [I’€™m] playing football and just doing whatever the coaches ask me to do and just going out and doing my job.

“That’€™s what the coaches ask of me and I’€™m going to take pride in what the coaches ask me to do and do it to my max potential and do it at full speed. It’€™s good, it feels good.”
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Read More: Buffalo Bills, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl
Tom Brady explains how Rob Gronkowski ‘has grown up a lot over the last 5 years’ 12.17.14 at 4:23 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady have been on the same page since Gronkowski arrived in 2010. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady have been on the same page since Gronkowski arrived in 2010. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Like everybody who watches the Patriots, Tom Brady has seen the fun-loving side of Rob Gronkowski on and off the field.

But Brady also gets a chance to see the more mature side of the Patriots all-world tight end. On Wednesday, Brady said he’s seen his 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end mature into one of the hardest workers on the team.

“He’€™s grown up a lot over the last five years,” Brady said. “It’€™s been a lot of fun to see it. His football IQ and understanding of what it takes to be a professional and consistently and dependably be that type of player for our offense that he’€™s become, has been fun to see. He’€™s got the size advantage, the speed advantage, and he’€™s really becoming so aware out there of different coverages and things they’€™re trying to do to stop him.

“Now, after this time, he and I are really getting on the same page with a lot of things that are adjustments to adjustments to adjustments and that type of thing. It’€™s just been great playing with him. He’€™s a huge part of our offense, really gets us going. He’€™s a threat on third down, he’€™s a threat in the red area, he’€™s a threat on big plays any time in the game. He’€™s a great player.”

What Gronkowski doesn’t always get credit for is his attention to detail in practice and in games. Part of that comes from spending time together after practice and some of it comes from the time Gronk puts in on his own.

“Yeah, it’€™s a lot of communication. After practice and so forth, we do a lot of things after practice with a lot of guys and you’€™re always trying to work on things that you didn’€™t maybe get a chance to work on during practice,” Brady said. “Gronk typically gets a lot of balls in practice, so it’€™s usually for a lot of the other guys who don’€™t usually get a lot of balls in practice.

“But he’€™s always there willing to work on whatever he needs to work on for us to be a better team. Whether that’€™s a new type of route or a new type of concept that we’€™re trying to run, that’€™s what you’€™re trying to do. You’€™re trying to get on the same page so you can really anticipate each other and then you can make those plays that end up being really critical. We’€™ve had a bunch of them this year. The little things always become big things, and to identify what those little things are and make corrections before you get to the game day is what’€™s really important.”

Read More: Gronk, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady
Rob Gronkowski suffers ‘nothing more than a charley horse’ in running over Dolphins 12.14.14 at 11:22 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It was a hit that brought back many horrible memories for Patriots fans.

On second-and-4 at the Miami 41, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on his third big seam route of the second half, good for 35 yards down to the Dolphins 6. But the bigger hit on the play came from Dolphins safety Jimmy Wilson. He came in like T.J. Ward did in Nov. 2013 and hit Gronkowski just above his surgically repaired right knee.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was one of the first to visit Gronk after the game at his locker. Gronk assured the concerned owner, “It’s just a charley horse,” Gronkowski said in a smiling, assuring manner.

Later, the tight end added to WEEI.com, “it was just a stinger on the thigh. Get them all the time.”

Brady opened the second half with a 34-yard connection to Gronkowski on a seam route. The play was big for several reasons. It was Gronkowski’s first catch. It put Gronkowski over 1,000 yards on the season and it was a play that appeared to finally give the Patriots some offensive rhythm. Gronkowski was held without a catch on just two targets in the first half.

“Just got to start off with just one play, just one play to get the drive going and get the first down and get going and start clicking from there,” Gronkowski said. “It just takes one play at a time, do what you got to do, and just keep on going from there.”

The first offensive play after a interception by Patrick Chung, it was Brady again on a seam to Gronkowski for 27 yards and a touchdown.

“It was a good throw by Tom, good protection, and just a little play action and I just had a seam route, so I just ran up the seam and Tom had a nice pass and we just completed [it] and scored,” Gronkowski said. “It was just good execution as a whole on offense.”

Gronkowski, like everyone else on the field, had an opinion on Brady’s 17-yard scramble on third-and-11 on the first drive of the second half.

“€œI kind of saw it. I was out there,” Gronk said. “It was a nice run, so you got to give props to him and he made a very nice play to get the first down and we eventually scored on that drive, so huge props to Brady on that run, it was huge.”

Gronkowski said he doesn’t often see Brady take off, even in practice, but he’ll take it.

“Whatever it comes down to win he’€™ll do, so he saw the opening, he ran, and, what was it for ‘€“ 17 ‘€“yards and a first down? That was huge,” Gronkowski said. “Huge props to him and he does anything to win.”

Gronkowski finished with those three catches on eight targets for a touchdown and 96 yards in the 41-13 AFC East-clinching win. It wasn’t a monster game but Robert Kraft and the rest of the Patriots will take the tight end getting through the game healthy as a nice tradeoff.

Read More: Gronk, Jimmy Kelly, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots
With a sixth straight division in his sights, Tom Brady explains why winning AFC East ‘never gets old’ 12.10.14 at 4:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady has the chance to make some history on Sunday.

And while Bill Belichick indicated Tuesday that he’s not going to spend more than “15 seconds” discussing the matter with the team, it still would mean something special to the Patriots quarterback to join Terry Bradshaw and Fran Tarkenton to lead their teams to six straight division titles since the merger.

“Coach hasn’€™t mentioned that,” Brady said Wednesday, the day when Belichick usually lays out the theme of the week. “Normally he has. You’€™re playing for a division championship, so it’€™s a very important game. We’€™ve worked really hard to get to this point. The guys have put a lot of work in over the whole offseason and to put ourselves in this position has been a lot of fun, but we’€™ve got to go out there and capitalize. This is a tough team to do it against. They’€™ve got some goals that they have, too, and I think that’€™s what makes for a great game is when both teams are determined to win, and only one team can win.”

The reason Belichick hasn’t mentioned it to Brady or the team is presumably because the goals are much, much bigger. But as Brady mentioned, there’s also the matter of the rest of the season. Belichick and Brady want to build momentum toward the end of the season, with a division title simply being a byproduct.

“Well, it’€™s a long season, and we’€™ve still got three games left,” Brady said. “There is a lot of football to be played. There are a lot of things to be decided. The only thing that matters is this week. That’€™s the only thing we can control. We’€™re going to go out there and try to control it the best we can, try to go out there and play the way that we’€™re capable of and see if we can have a great day of execution and certainly better than we’€™ve had the last two weeks.”

The division may be taken for granted many around the league and by Patriots fans. But to Brady, a division hat and t-shirt day never gets old.

“Absolutely not. I think we’€™re trying to win every time we take the field,” Brady said. “Winning never gets old, I know that. That feeling that we had the other night was a great feeling, and that’€™s what motivates you to win because you know the opposite side of that. We’€™ve got to do the things that help us win as opposed to do the things that make us lose games. It should be a fun week.

Belichick gave the Patriots Monday and Tuesday off after Sunday’s win in San Diego. This is done usually with the words, ‘€˜see you on Wednesday.’€™ In theory, it means you a couple days off. But to Brady it’s really not complete reality.

“It’€™s just that time of the year,” Brady said. “I don’€™t think there are any off days ‘€“ maybe in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but not necessarily in a quarterback’€™s preparation. I do a lot of work, and I enjoy it, so that’€™s the easy part. I get to do something I love to do.”

So when asked at the start of the press conference if he were over jet lag from San Diego, the answer was easy.

“Yeah, this is a big week, so you’€™ve got to get over it quick,” Brady said.

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Read More: Gronk, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Tom Brady
‘Sexy’ Rob Gronkowski purrs like a kitten for ESPN The Mag at 10:30 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski poses for a cover shoot of the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine. (ESPN Magazine/Twitter)

Rob Gronkowski poses for a cover shoot of the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine. (ESPN Magazine/Twitter)

FOXBORO — Not that he needed to but Rob Gronkowski is once again proving he is the most fun-loving football star in the NFL.

Good thing he’s 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds of pure rock or he would be laughed out of the locker room for his latest photo shoot and feature for ESPN The Magazine.

In it, Gronkowski poses with a cute little kitten on his right shoulder in one photo, while wearing a smile and chomping down on a bracelet that reads “Sexy” in another. ESPN tweeted out 10 pictures from the recent photo shoot that will accompany a feature story on the superstar who, on Sunday night in San Diego, became the first tight end in NFL history with four seasons of double-digit touchdown receptions.

Gronk has 73 catches for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He has not missed a single regular season game after tearing his ACL in Nov. 2013 when Cleveland’s T.J. Ward took him out at the knees.

The Patriots tight end will be on the cover of the latest issue of the magazine, due out this Friday.

This is not the first time Gronk has graced the cover of The Mag. Back in July 2012, he bared it all for “The Body” issue, ESPN’s equivalent of the “SI Swimsuit” edition.

No doubt, some of his teammates will be tempted to tease him in the locker room this week.

Read More: ESPN The Magazine, Gronk, Rob Gronkowski,
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