QUINCY, MA -- Rob Gronkowski stepped away from Joe Andruzzi's charity golf event Monday to talk with reporters for a moment. The hot topics for New England's top tight end were unsurprising: his health and his contract. Of the surgically-repaired ankle, Gronkowski said only that it's feeling "great." But his new six-year, 54 million deal? That warranted, and received, something more. "I'm just happy. Both sides are really happy," he said. "I love all my fans out there. It's a great community, a great team. It's awesome going out there every single Sunday in front of that crowd. I'm happy to be here long-term, definitely. It all worked out well." Sounds like the 23-year old is growing up. Well, kind of. When asked if he's yet made any extravagant purchases, Gronkowski responded as only he could: "No. You want to buy me something?"
FOXBORO -- There seem to be some differing opinions inside Gillette Stadium as to the feel of the third preseason game. Is it a good dress rehearsal for the regular season, or is it just as vanilla as any other preseason matchup?
Example No. 1 comes from coach Bill Belichick's WEEI interview earlier this week:
"In terms of playing time it might be a little different, but in terms of game-planning and strategy, what we see in the regular season compared to what we see the in third preseason game, I don’t even think you’re in the same universe," he said. "We’re still running our basic plays and we’d expect our opponents would run their basic plays.
"You get to the opener and start to get to game-planning and scheme, I mean you’re in a totally different ballpark, in my opinion. I don’t see any comparison at all. It’s too far away, I don’t see how you could compare them, from that standpoint. One-on-one matchups, letting the players play, yeah, I would say you have a better matchup of guys like that, but it’s nothing compared to what we’re going to see in the regular season from a total scheme situation standpoint."
Example No. 2 comes from Martellus Bennett, who opted not to meet with reporters last week when the Bears, his former club, came to town for joint practices.
"All my snaps are full speed," Bennett said when asked about this week's game with the Panthers. "I don't slow down. I just go full speed the whole time so it's just a regular game for me . . . It's always the same whether it's the regular season or preseason. Put my pants on the same way. Put my shoes on the same way. Tie them the same way. Same gloves, same face mask."
Truth is, both can be right.
For players who are given plays and asked to execute assignments, a preseason game played at full speed may very well feel like a regular-season game. For coaches who are coming up with the plays and assignments for said players to execute, the difference between the regular season and preseason is vast.
The third preseason game might then be the closest thing teams experience to a regular-season game this month, but it's still not close.
Darren McKee discusses Denver's quarterback choices between Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian with Toucher & Rich.
FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo and Bryan Stork arrived to New England as part of the same draft class back in 2014, and over the course of the last two years, they developed a close relationship.
With Stork's release, only two of the team's eight draft picks from that year -- Garoppolo and running back James White -- have remained on the team's active roster uninterrupted. (Offensive linemen Cameron Fleming and Jon Halapio are on the current 90-man roster, but were released and re-signed since being drafted.)
"It's tough," Garoppolo said of Stork's release. "It's that time of year. There's a lot of movement between teams and players and everything, and it's tough to see one of your guys go like that. But that's the business, I guess."
With Stork no longer factoring into the picture at center for the Patriots, the starting role will fall to David Andrews, who was undrafted in 2015 but started the first 10 games of the season last year as Stork worked his way back from the short-term injured reserve list.
Garoppolo said he has seen good work out of Andrews during training camp, and he likes the way the offensive linemen on the roster -- often subbed in and out during practices to create depth -- have worked together this offseason.
"David, he's been doing a great job this camp," Garoppolo said. "The whole o-line as a whole, though, it's a good group of guys. No one gets mixed and matched more than those guys do. To be able to work with different people next to you all the time and everything like that. You're getting adjusted to them, they're getting adjusted to you. It's really a credit to those guys up front. They all handle it very well."
Working behind Andrews at the center position during training camp have been Josh Kline and sixth-round rookie draft pick Ted Karras.