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Jonathan Kraft says Patriots don’t need to rush Rob Gronkowski back: ‘We’ll see Rob when time’s right’ 09.18.16 at 1:17 pm ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

FOXBORO — Jonathan Kraft is not worried about Rob Gronkowski rushing back to action.

The tight end missed his second straight regular season game Sunday with a hamstring injury, despite practicing all week.

The Patriots team president, on the team’s pregame radio show, said he knows the All-Pro won’t rush back until he feels completely ready.

“Rob will play when the doctors and the coaching staff and Rob all feel it’s the right time for it to happen,” Kraft said. “It’s a 16-game regular season and you have to manage players’ health and safety. We’ve talked about this before. Rob plays the game in a very physical way and he’s a big football player. It’s a long season and we have confidence in the whole 53-man roster. So, when anybody, Rob or anybody, steps on the football field, we feel the player can play and contribute.

“We’ll see Rob when the time’s right.”

The Patriots certainly didn’t miss Gronkowski on Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo connected with Danny Amendola and Martellus Bennett for touchdowns in the opening quarter as the Patriots got off to a quick start against the Dolphins.

The Patriots also paid tribute to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz before the game. Ortiz received a video tribute before being introduced to the crowd. He was then given his own No. 34 jersey with “Big Papi” on the back.

“He’s obviously right up on that pantheon of the greatest in Boston sports,” Kraft said. “Much like our quarterback is beating back [Father Time], age doesn’t matter. When you’ve got the drive and ability, it’s all about yourself as a competitor. David was kind enough, when the Yankee game got moved to this evening, agreed to come down so the Patriots crowd would hopefully have a chance to honor him. So we’re going to do a little something with him before the kickoff. If you’re a David Ortiz fan or a Boston sports fan, come in a little early to pay your respects to David here at Gillette.”

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Read More: Big Papi, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Gronk
Dont’a Hightower (knee) doubtful, Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) among 9 questionable 09.16.16 at 4:59 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

While Dont’a Hightower (knee) did not practice all week, the Patriots are leaving the door open just slightly that he might play Sunday against the Dolphins.

The Patriots linebacker suffered the right knee injury Sunday night in the first half of the win over the Cardinals.

Things are a bit more promising for Rob Gronkowski. The tight end, who tweaked his hamstring twice in the preseason, practiced all week after missing the opener Sunday night. He is listed officially as questionable after being limited again on Friday.

Gronkowski is one of nine Patriots listed as questionable, including receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder). Hogan was listed as full participating all week and played without any noticeable limitations last Sunday.

The only player formally ruled out is new cornerback Eric Rowe, who turned up on the Patriots injury report on Thursday with an ankle injury. He and Hightower were the only players not participating in practice Friday.

For the Dolphins, center Mike Pouncey has been ruled out with a hip injury. Tight end Jordan Cameron (thigh), running back Arian Foster (hamstring), receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring), defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) and Mario Williams (concussion) are among the eight Miami players questionable for Sunday at Gillette.

Here’s Friday’s complete report:

LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) DOUBTFUL
CB Eric Rowe (ankle) OUT

CB Malcolm Butler (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
OL Marcus Cannon (knee) QUESTIONABLE
OL Jonathan Cooper (foot) QUESTIONABLE
DE Trey Flowers (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
OL Shaq Mason (hand) QUESTIONABLE
LB Shea McClellin (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
OL Nate Solder (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE

WR Chris Hogan (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE

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Read More: Dont'a Hightower, Gronk, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots
Jonathan Kraft announces Tom Brady banner will come down immediately, defends Rob Gronkowski treatment 09.11.16 at 8:29 pm ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Patriots are putting an end to the two-week hype over the Tom Brady banner at Gillette Stadium.

Speaking on the team’s radio pregame show, team president Jonathan Kraft announced that as soon as the Patriots kickoff with the Cardinals 2,500 miles away, a construction crew will begin to take down the two-sided banner and the two No. 12 placards at the top of the north end light house.

“Tonight there’s a construction crew assembled at Gillette, and when the game starts, the banner and the number will come down,” Kraft said. “No one in the organization, and Tom would be leading the pack, would want anything to take away from the games once they have started. It’s just a way to let him know that everybody loves him and has his back and we don’t feel he was treated fairly.

“I want to put this in perspective. Tom Brady, he’s the longest tenured Patriot in history. This will be his 17th season with the club. Steve Grogan was the prior longest-tenured player. So 17 years out of our 57th season, he has played in 17 seasons. In those 17 seasons, the Patriots have won 43 percent of all games, regular season and postseason, all all games won in franchise history. We’re a team, an organization and a family.

“When somebody is your longest-tenured member, who has not only won those games but won four Super Bowls and you feel as an organization or as a family that somebody hasn’t been treated fairly, for us, we wanted to do something to symbolize that we are a family and he’s not going to be with us for the start of the season. And so, for that window of time, between the end of the preseason and today, we wanted to symbolize that he’s very much on everybody’s mind and we love him.

As for the handling of Rob Gronkowski and his balky hamstring that kept him home this weekend, Kraft said the team is handling him just like any other player, even though they know he is far from any normal player.

“I think, like with any player on our team, Bill, the training staff and docs get together with the players, talk about what’s going on in their rehab and various stages of progressing are,” Kraft said. “I was not in our facility this week practically at all. I can’t tell you when and what particular conversations happened. I don’t think anything happens differently with Rob than what happens with any other players’ injuries. What might happen is because he’s Rob is that he’s not only an exceptional tight end but a bigger-than-life personality that a lot more attention gets paid to it, and understandably so.

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Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Gronk, Jonathan Kraft, New England Patriots
Scene-setting from Arizona: Patriots open 2016 season with Jimmy Garoppolo, without Nate Solder, Rob Gronkowski at 1:52 pm ET
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The Patriots visit University of Phoenix Stadium for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLIX. (Mike Petraglia/

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The time has finally arrived.

After a summer of trying to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to fill the shoes of Tom Brady for the first month of the season, the first test is upon the Patriots as they play the Cardinals in the Valley of the Sun.

The weather outside University of Phoenix is a big reason the Cardinals built a retractable roof in the middle of the desert. It will be sunny and 100 degrees outside. The roof figures to be closed, creating a comfortable 72-degree environment inside the building where the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX the last time they played there.

The building figures to be much more hostile this time as expectations are high for the Cardinals, who reached the NFC championship before getting blown out by the Carolina Panthers.

The Patriots enter the game as nine-point underdogs (per Bovada), the biggest margin for Patriots since they were 14-point underdogs against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

The reason for the big spread is who the Patriots are missing. Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich start 2016 serving four-game suspensions. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski and starting left tackle Nate Solder are out with hamstring injuries.

Jonathan Cooper did not make the trip with plantar fascia in his foot.

How will the Patriots cope? There is the thought that McDaniels will use a combination of power running and no-huddle to keep Arizona’s pass rush (featuring newly-acquired Chandler Jones) at bay. Chris Price has the scouting report.

Ryan Hannable has 10 fun facts to consider heading into the game.

The Patriots reportedly made a couple of big transactions before the game, extending the contract of Ninkovich and restructuring the deal of safety Devin McCourty that shifts just over $3 million to guaranteed money next season, saving approximately $2.8 million in cap space this season.

The Patriots have won 11 of their last 12 season openers, including last year’s 28-21 decision over the Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Bill Belichick is 12-4 in season openers with the Patriots and 14-7 overall as a head coach.

Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Gronk, Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Petraglia
Rob Gronkowski admits he’s not 100 percent with ‘a little hammy thing’ but adds, ‘I’m feeling good’ for Sunday 09.08.16 at 3:04 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It would appear Rob Gronkowski feels good enough to play Sunday night in the season opener against the Cardinals.

One thing is for sure, he’s doing everything he can to treat the hamstring he tweaked in mid-August against the Bears in practice to be ready for Jimmy Garoppolo’s first regular season NFL start.

Gronkowski started off his availability Thursday in front of his locker with reporters acknowledging that he’s not been able to go 100 percent in practice this week.

“No, I’m not, ever since that one time during the practices with the Bears, I’ve just been week-to-week with a little hammy thing so just been week-to-week and day-by-day but I’m feeling good,” Gronkowski said. “Feeling good.”

Can Gronk put a number on the odds he will play Sunday?

“I can’t put a percentage on it but just feeling better every day,” Gronkowski said.

Gronkowski said if everything stays on course, he is in line to be active and play Sunday night against the Cardinals.

“Yeah. It boils down to coach’s decision, medical team and myself,” Gronkowski said with the qualifier. “We’ll all get together, collaborate and see where I’m at.”

Gronkowski is fully aware of the positive impact he could have on Garoppolo if he steps on the field.

“Yes, definitely. I want to be out there so bad, especially to help out the team, help out the team just overall, at any position. Help out whatever guys will be out there and with the team, supporting them. It’s super-big and doing the best I can so I’m there.

“It’s always super-exciting just to get back on the field, start competing again. It’s always super-exciting, the first game, the opener down in Arizona, Sunday night football. Can’t ask for any better crowd.”

Read More: Gronk, Hamstring, New England Patriots, nfl
Perfect attendance again Thursday for Patriots in final prep before Arizona at 12:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots held another practice Thursday on the upper grass fields and once again, all players on the active roster were present and accounted for.

The only two missing were Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich, who will spend the first four weeks on the league’s suspended list.

After a full pads practice Wednesday, the team was in just shorts and shells for the humid midday workout.

Rob Gronkowski and Nate Solder were both taking part in full stretching exercises before practice, as both were listed as limited with hamstring issues in Wednesday’s first practice report.

Cornerback Eric Rowe and practice squad linebacker Quentin Gause were both taking part in their second practices.

Thursday is the last full day for the Patriots in Foxboro, as the team is leaving Friday for Sunday night’s season opener in Arizona.

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Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Gronk, Nate Solder, New England Patriots
Martellus Bennett promises ‘blue collar’ work ethic as curtain goes up on 2016 Patriots Sunday night at 7:33 am ET
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FOXBORO — Martellus Bennett wants people to know he has bought into the Patriot Way.

The veteran that was signed to a one-year deal in March to help New England build the best tight end duo in the league wants everyone to know that he considers himself just another player alongside Rob Gronkowski.

Asked if he thinks he can be a productive, dynamic star in New England thanks to playing alongside Gronk, Bennett said he’s just bringing his hard hat with him to work every day.

“Those are nice adjectives. I don’t consider myself a star. I consider myself a blue-collar tight end. So, I just go in and go to work. The game plan is what the game plan is. You have to wait till Sunday night. It’s like waiting for a movie to premiere.”

Someone joked that the only difference is that Bennett knows the script going into the game.

“No, I don’t. That’s the thing. It’s improv. Football is improv,” Bennett replied.

In other words, Sunday night might be the time the red carpet is rolled out on the season but Bennett will be just fine in his uniform and going to work.

Speaking of premieres, the curtain goes up on the NFL career of Jimmy Garoppolo Sunday in Arizona. Bennett, the only one of the twin tower tight ends to work the QB in the preseason, says he’ll do everything possible to help him succeed.

“I just enjoyed playing with the guys and try to make it as easy as possible by doing my job for him,” Bennett said.
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Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Gronk, Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
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