Gronkowski not caught up in Buffalo homecoming

651140.jpg

Gronkowski not caught up in Buffalo homecoming

FOXBORO -- A game in Buffalo, New York, means a homecoming of sorts for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The 23-year old was born in Amherst and grew up in Williamsville, about a 20-minute drive from Buffalo.
Gronkowski is appropriately excited to make the trip.
"It's great going back, right where you grew up and played in front of all your friends and family and everything," he said Friday. "It's my third time going up there and doing this. It's a cool experience and I'm definitely looking forward to the game and seeing my family and stuff."
How about that 'stuff'? The weather could be unkind outside the warm confines of Gronkowski's family circle.
How do Bills fans handle it? Does the home crowd look past the Patriots jersey to welcome back a native son?
"I'm not really sure about that," the big tight end said, caution playing at the corners of his mouth. "I mean, I just go out there and play the game. And I just know they're always cheering against our team, so I'm just not really focused on that either. I'm really focused on going, doing my job and playing against the Bills. Just really focused on their defense."
It seems he enjoys the challenge.
In four regular season games against the Bills, Gronkowski has amassed 314 yards and 7 touchdowns on 22 catches. 217 of those yards came last year alone.
When asked if he likes to show off in front of Buffalo, he had to quickly stifle a grin.
"I mean, it's always good to go back to your hometown and have a good game But you take every game and focus on every game to do well, to go out there and play well," Gronkowski said. "So we'll see what happens this game. They're a good, tough defense so we've got to go out ready to fight."

Report: Butler expected to be at OTAs this week

malcolm-butler-nfl-patriots-picard.png

Report: Butler expected to be at OTAs this week

When Patriots corner Malcolm Butler wasn't on the field for last Thursday's OTA, it sparked questions as to whether or not he might be holding out for a new contract. Voted into the Pro Bowl last season, Butler is scheduled to make $600,000 in base salary in 2016 -- well under market value for a player of his caliber. 

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss reported over the weekend that Butler has told those close to him that he has plans to push for a contract adjustment this offseason.

Might that push include a holdout? It's unclear, but on Tuesday Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported that Butler is expected to be in attendance for Patriots OTAs this week. Howe went on to note that he was given "a strong indication" that Butler's absence last week was not related to his contract.

The Patriots will hold two more volunatry OTA sessions on Wednesday and Thursday that will be closed to the media. The team held three such sessions last week, with Thursday's as the lone practice open to reporters. Mandatory minicamp will be held from June 7-9. 

If Butler shows up to remaining OTAs and through minicamp, then it will be an indication that he's chosen not to attempt to gain leverage in negotiations by withholding his services. Yet at the same time, his presence on the field won't necessarily mean that he's be satisfied to continue playing under the deal that he has thoroughly outperformed through his first two professional seasons.