Gronkowski proving his durability

Gronkowski proving his durability
November 22, 2011, 10:34 pm
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It's hard to imagine that there was a time not that long ago, when Rob Gronkowski's durability was in question.

Instead of wondering if he'll get hurt, the question his play seems to raise now is, "Who's defense will he hurt this week?"

The second-year tight end has put aside all injury inquiries with the kind of play that, well, is worth talking about.

He leads all NFL tight ends in touchdown receptions (10) this season, and is second in catches (56) and yards receiving (805).

In New England's 34-3 thumping of the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, Gronk had four catches for 96 yards with a pair of touchdown grabs.

"The great thing about Gronk is he took a couple of plays that had a few yards to them, but turned them into big plays with his ability to break tackles there in the secondary and run through people," said Pats coach Bill Belichick. "The run after the catch was huge in his production last night."

Actually, his ability to gain yards after the catch has been among the many reasons why Gronkowski is well on pace to being named to the Pro Bowl this season.

He has 334 yards after the catch this season, which ranks eighth among NFL receivers, and is tops among all tight ends.

In Monday's win, Gronkowski delivered yet another impressive yards-after-the-catch moment when he went airborne and landed on the back of his head, looking to elude the lone defender that stood between him and the end zone.

"Feels great," was Gronk's response when asked how his neck felt after his head-first landing.

Gronkowski, who was selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, was no different than any other Patriots target whose medical history was put through a thorough background check.

He missed the entire 2009 season at Arizona following back surgery, along with illnesses keeping him out of three games in 2008.

So it's understandable if the Patriots went beyond their usual due diligence in making sure he was good to go, health-wise.

"With a player like Rob or anybody else, there are multiple examples of players who maybe missed a season or they got hurt during the middle of their senior season or their junior season if they're an underclassman, or whatever the case may be," said Nick Caserio, Patriots director of player personnel.

Caserio added, "But you evaluate the player's skills (and) what you think the player is when he's on the field. There's certainly a medical component that comes into play. So, we try to take all the information we have available and put it all together and make the decision that we feel is best for us based on the information we have."

When healthy, there were few players more productive at his position in the nation.

Gronkowski set just about every major receiving record for tight ends at Arizona, finishing as the school's career leader in receptions (75), receiving yards (1,197) and touchdowns (16) -- all in less than two full seasons, mind you.

Now in the NFL, Gronkowski continues to prove himself as not only being a productive part of the Patriots offense, but a durable one as well.