Gronkowski ready for anything vs. Eagles


Gronkowski ready for anything vs. Eagles

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski has been covered by a variety of different players this season -- safeties, cornerbacks, linebackers -- and they've all been similarly unsuccessful in stopping the Patriots' second-year tight end.

At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, with sure hands, and a 40-yard dash time that measured in the 4.6 second range coming out of college, Gronkowski is a walking mismatch. His 56 receptions are tied for fifth in the NFL, and his 14.4 yards-per-catch average among receivers with at least 50 catches is only surpassed by big-name, outside-the-numbers wideouts like Carolina's Steve Smith (17.7), Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace (17.4) and Detriot's Calvin Johnson (16.5).

Linebackers are often too slow to keep up with Gronkowski, and defensive backs usually aren't big enough to challenge him for jumps balls or tackle him once he has the ball. It's a problem for opposing defenses that's yet to be solved.

He even got the Darrelle Revis treatment in Week 10 at different points during the Patriots' win over the Jets. Gronkowski finished that game with eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

"You see a lot of cornerbacks all the time, you see a lot of safeties, you see a lot of linebackers," Gronkowski said. "Whatever it is you gotta prepare for it. You gotta be ready for whatever they bring. You gotta be ready no matter who they bring, who they cover you with."

The Chiefs tried to blanket him with safeties and linebackers in Week 11 and he burned them for two more scores. On his second touchdown, he showcased his power and his athleticism when he broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage by Chiefs safety Donald Washington, then jumped over linebacker Derrick Johnson into the end zone.

Gronkowski isn't sure how the Eagles will cover him Sunday, but he'll be ready whether he sees a corner, safety or 'backer.

"Every week you study players," Gronkowski said. "You study their linebackers, you study their safeties, their corners. You never know the game plan, you never know until the game so you have to be ready for all situations."

Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is listed as questionable with a knee injury after collapsing in a non-contact drill during Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day practice. Though he may not play, Asomugha is considered one of the best corners in the league, and Gronkowski has prepared for him. Just in case.

"You gotta key in on everybody still, no matter who is injured," he said. "If someone has a possible chance of playing, you gotta key in on them, too."

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”