Williamsville's Rob Gronkowski has made a favorable impression as a rookie tight end with the New England Patriots. He averaged 13 yards on eight catches with four touchdowns in the preseason and added a pair of receptions for 14 yards and a TD in the first two regular-season games.
Gronkowski applied for the NFL draft a year early after being sidelined for his junior season at the University of Arizona after back surgery. The Patriots chose him in the second round.
Judging from the glowing comments from coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots couldn't be happier with their selection.
“He missed his junior season last year in college, so he's had a little catching up to do,’’ Belichick said during a conference call with the Buffalo media. “But he's in good shape, he works hard, and is a tough kid. He had a good preseason, and has become a very dependable and durable player for us.
“I think as he continues to gain experience and understands both what we're doing and what opponents do and some of the things that go on in the game that are subtle things and situational things, then he will continue to get better. He's done a nice job for us, and I'm glad we have him. I think he's got a really good future ahead of him.’’
Brady believes Gronkowski will ultimately become one of his primary targets.
“He's a young player. I think he just turned 21,'' Brady told the Buffalo media. "But since the day that he got here he’s made an impact on the team with both his blocking and what he gives us in the passing game. He’s big, he’s really strong, he’s got real good speed. It’s just a matter of getting him more involved. He has proven every week that he’s capable of doing some real good things for our offense, so we’re trying to find ways to incorporate him more.’’
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