Gronkowski: 'When we get six, your boy right here is going to be part of six'

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Gronkowski: 'When we get six, your boy right here is going to be part of six'

Rob Gronkowski, flying high on emotion and whatever fluids he was ingesting during the Tuesday's parade, vowed to be available to the Patriots the next time they make the Super Bowl.

When he took the microphone, the tight end who had season-ending back surgery got the crowd at City Hall into a fervor. 

"What's up, Boston? Want to know something? When we get six, your boy right here is going to be part of six, baby," he said. "This team worked so hard to be where they're at. I love these guys so much. I know I wasn't part of playing in the game, but, please, I love being a part of this team, and this is just so amazing."

It should be an interesting year for the Patriots and their tight end position as Martellus Bennett is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Meanwhile Gronkowski's contract, and whether it should be restructured to become more incentive-laden, was a topic broached by Jerod Mayo and Mike Giardi on the latest episode of the Ex-Pats Podcast.

O'Brien: Watson needs more consistency but shows flashes of being ready

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O'Brien: Watson needs more consistency but shows flashes of being ready

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia -- After watching the Texans defense stifle the Patriots in the first of their two joint practices this week, the next logical thought for anyone wondering about Houston's chances in the AFC was: What can they get out of their quarterbacks?

Texans coach Bill O'Brien seemed bullish on this year's No. 12 overall pick Deshaun Watson after the session, saying he believed Watson was further ahead than other rookie quarterbacks he's worked with in training camps past.

Watson is splitting first-team reps with Tom Savage, and on Tuesday he showed flashes of his potential. He moved well in the pocket. He didn't make any scratch-your-head types of decisions. Accuracy was at times an issue, as it was for him in college, but it didn't seem like the game was moving at a pace that overwhelmed him.

O'Brien may not be ready to give Watson the keys to the offense just yet, but he explained that there are certain boxes Watson can check that will make him feel good about it when he does. 

"I think, over time, it develops," O'Brien said. "You see it in practice. There's certain things that you think about that maybe somebody who doesn't coach wouldn't see it, but as a coach, you've been through it, you've experienced, hey, this is something maybe this guy's not ready at or, yes, he is ready. He just redirected a protection or checked a run or got us out of a bad play, put us into a better play.

"And then he did it in a game, and he was able to function in a game. Then it's his demeanor, it's his poise under pressure, his ability to come out here and go against a new defense. How did he handle that? It's all of those things."

Has he seen any of those things yet from Watson, O'Brien was asked?

"There's times when he's been able to do that," O'Brien said. "That's what I mean by, for a rookie, I think he's ahead of where some rookies I've been around have been. I've seen him be able to do that. I think he needs to do it more consistently, but he works very hard to get it right. If he doesn't get it right away on the field, he goes into the meeting room and tries to fix it."

The Texans and Patriots focused much of Tuesday's practice on the run game, and they're expected to zero-in on the pass game more Wednesday, giving Watson more opportunity to show his coach that he should be his guy sooner rather than later.

NFL players union appeals Elliott's six-game suspension

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NFL players union appeals Elliott's six-game suspension

NEW YORK -- The NFL Players Association has appealed Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension over the league's conclusion that its 2016 rushing leader injured his former girlfriend in three separate incidents last summer.

The union said Tuesday it will represent Elliott "to ensure that the NFL is held to its obligation of adhering to principles of industrial due process under the collective bargaining agreement."

The NFL suspended Elliott last week after a yearlong investigation into an Ohio domestic violence case that prosecutors declined to pursue. Elliott's attorneys blasted Commission Roger Goodell's ruling, saying the league "cherry-picked" evidence to reach its conclusion.

A hearing with Goodell or an arbitrator will be scheduled within 10 days with a decision "as soon as practicable" after the appeal is heard, according to the labor agreement.

The Cowboys open the regular season Sept. 10 at home against the New York Giants.