Gronkowski named AFC Offensive Player of the Week

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Gronkowski named AFC Offensive Player of the Week

The Patriots announced that Rob Gronkowski was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Patriots 34-27 victory over the Washington Redskins.

It is the first Player of the Week honor for Gronkowski.

Gronkowski caught six passes for a career-high 160 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins. He extended his NFL record for overall touchdowns in a single season by a tight end to 16 (15 receiving and 1 rushing). His 14th and 15th touchdown receptions of the season established an NFL record for most touchdown receptions in a season by a tight end.

Gronkowski also became just the second New England tight end to go over 1,000 yards for the season after the 160 yards pushed his 2011 total to 1,088. TE Ben Coates set the franchise mark for a tight end with 1,174 yards in 1994.

Gronkowski needs 203 yards in the final three games to set the NFL record for most yards in a season by a tight end, held by Kellen Winslow, who had 1,290 yards in 1980 with San Diego.

It is the fifth Player of the Week honor for the Patriots in 2011. Tom Brady was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week following the first two games of the season at Miami on Sept. 12 and vs. San Diego on Spt. 18, Andre Carter was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week following the win at the Jets on Nov. 13 and Julian Edelman was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week following the win vs. Kansas City on Nov. 21.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.