Rob Gronkowski No. 21 on NFL Top 100

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Rob Gronkowski No. 21 on NFL Top 100

As NFL Network continues ticking down on its list of Top 100 Players of 2012, another Patriot is named.

Rob Gronkowski is ranked at 21.

The record-breaking Patriots tight end did a remote interview with a quartet of NFL Total Access analysts: Kurt Warner, Steve Mariucci, Warren Sapp, and Heath Evans.

On being the No. 2 tight end on the countdown:
First off, it's just an honor to be even recognized as a Top 100 player. To be at 21, just my second year in the league it's just an honor for me. Got to stay humble, and just got to keep grinding every single day and every single year. Just keep working hard.

Warner asks what it is about the Patriots system that fosters success:
Just everyone around you. Everyone's in, all for each other. Having a great supporting cast around me from the coaches to the players. Everyone has one goal, and it's to win. No matter how you can get it done If it's one of the wide receivers having 14 catches a game, three touchdowns. Or if it's a running back having a good game, or if it's one of us tight ends having a good game. We're all in it for each other, we're all there to support each other and that's all everyone wants to do -- we just play together as a team to get that victory.

Mariucci inquires into Gronkowski's offseason goals:
Just to improve my game every single game. First off, getting in the playbook, learning the offense; you can never not know the offense 100-percent. Just always learning more and more every time you step out on the field. And also, just using every single aspect of the game, from blocking and pass catching-wise -- just focusing and getting better in every single thing. Taking my weaknesses and making them stronger and taking my strengths and making them better. Just working on every single aspect of my game so that when training camp comes rolling into the season, I'm ready, strong and ready to roll.

What's your favorite route, Sapp asks:
My favorite route is definitely the flag route. I just love giving the little shake at the top, at 10-12 yards and bursting out over in the corner. I mean, I'm most comfortable running that route and it's always been my favorite -- ever since high school.

Evans knows all about Bill Belichick's weekly Q&A sessions, but enlighten the fans:
You've just got to be ready for anything, at any time, any type of questions. You just always want to be prepared. You want to know your plays, you want to know your opponents, you want to be studying up on film. Whenever it comes down to a question, your heart is just you're feeling it. You just want to get that question right, whatever it is. It just keeps you on your toes at all times to make sure you're mentally prepared coming in every single week, which is great.

Owen Daniels said Gronkowski is the TE all TEs are measured by. Who do you measure YOURSELF by?
That's an honor that he even said that, Owen Daniels I've actually been looking up to him when I was in college watching him play and everything. That's just an honor to be mentioned like that from other players. My favorite players were Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates just growing up in high school and college watching all them. I still compare myself to them, I still watch their film all the time. I still try to take tips from their game and add it to my game.

And just right now, Jimmy Graham, he's in the same class as me. He's a great player. He's a great tight end. I'm always looking at his game, too. Trying to figure out what he's doing because he's having so much success down there in New Orleans.

So much respect for all the other tight ends out there.

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.

 

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

When trying to figure out what the Patriots will ultimately do with Jimmy Garoppolo, forget about the speculation and instead focus on the little things the team does. 

Like how they are tending to Jacoby Brissett. 

After having thumb surgery on Oct. 7, Brissett was put on IR. But the team used its one "Get off of IR free card" on Brissett and he's been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks while not taking up a roster spot. 

That alone isn't compelling evidence that he's the backup-in-waiting and Garoppolo's about to be packed up and shipped out, argued my compadre, Senator Phil Perry. The team had no other players on IR that they could use the designation on at the time. Why not use it on Brissett?

Prior to that, though, we've seen Brissett accompanying the team to away games including the cross-country junket to San Francisco. A reason? Since the Patriots played three straight at Gillette at the start of the season when Brissett was the direct backup to Garoppolo, he didn't get a good look at the road operation and the tempo of being the visiting team. How things work on flights, in meetings, at opposing stadiums and on the sidelines is worth getting a promising young players' eyes on. Also, getting his offensive teammates used to having him around is probably an even bigger benefit. It's not unprecedented to have IR players travel but its not conventional practice either. 

With so many quarterback-needy teams around the league, Garoppolo is perhaps the most attractive option out there. By the end of this year, he will have apprenticed three seasons behind the best quarterback of all-time in a sophisticated offense for a program that's as demanding as any in the league. In the 1 1/2 games he was able to play as a starter in place of Tom Brady, he was sensational.

He got hurt and that's not great. But any team making a deal for him that has concerns about his durability can take him for a spin for one season. Garoppolo is on the books for $825K in 2017 and then his contract is up. The team that dealt for him can franchise him if they need another season to think on it. 

I don't think the Patriots are itching to move Garoppolo. They know they are sitting comfortably with a stack of the most valuable commodity in the sport -- good quarterbacks (or at least one great one and two promising ones) - piled in front of them. They can let the game come to them. 

If it does, as former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi thinks it will, the Patriots can rest easy dealing Garoppolo knowing that they already did advance work getting Brissett up to speed.