Light says leg is improving

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Light says leg is improving

FOXBORO - Matt Light shed little light on the reason he was unable to go Saturday against the Dolphins but did say his injured leg is improving. "We're getting there buddy," Light said Tuesday afternoon in the Patriots locker room when asked how his leg was doing. "Just wasn't able to go the other day. Unfortunately. And it's a rough deal, you know. Gameday. Making that decision. We'll work this week and get back out there but it's feeling better."The nature of the injury and when Light sustained it is still unclear.He had praise, however, for the players shuffled to make up for his absence. "I think those guys all fought hard," Light said. "To come back in the second half that way and battle back, and get a win, that was a heck of an effort. We have a lot of things we have to correct, and there's always a lot of things we have to do better. But those guys did a great job out there. Of course, guys stepping up and playing positions they hadn't practiced, and going through plays they haven't run -- maybe at all in some cases -- it's not an easy task." It was especially hard for the subs for both Light and left guard Logan Mankins given the short week they were working on and the lack of practice reps backups get during the week. "It was a short week anyway, relatively, and there are only so many things you can rep out there in practice," Light explained. "You want your guys that are going to be playing in the game to take most of those. A lot of times these guys that are in the backup position, that come in and out of the game, they're not going to get those reps. So it comes down to the film room and understanding the plays, and the concepts and what we do, and doing it mentally for the most part." As for Mankins, Light said he spent hours in meetings with him on Tuesday.
"He's a tough guy," Light said."He's a guy that's never missed a practice or a game...but I'm sure the cowboy will ride again. His Fu Manchu still looks pretty good."Light also spoke about the presentation the team made to owner Robert Kraft after Saturday's game. "You realize off the field how much it means to the Kraft family to represent yourself in a certain way and live your life in acertain way and keep family at the top of the list," said Light."I think a lot of times you forget about it in the day-to-day hustle and bustle and I think to each guy in this locker room we wanted to tellMr. Kraftand his family we understand this has been a tough year. We wanted to commemorate something that was one of a kind that was special that (symbolized) what we dedicated the season to."

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

Rob Gronkowski's contract looked like one of the NFL's best bargains not too long ago. Now, after agreeing to a contract restructure, he could be paid as the top tight end in the league if he stays healthy.

Granted, it's a gargantuan "if."

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gronkowski's restructured deal will bump his salary for this upcoming season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million should he hit certain statistical thresholds or be named an All-Pro.

Per Schefter, Gronkowski earns $10.75 million if he plays 90 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done once before in his career), or makes 80 catches (which he's done twice), or gains 1,200 yards receiving (once), or is named an All-Pro (three times). 

Those seem like lofty goals for the 28-year-old who's entering his eighth year as a pro. But history shows that if he stays on the field for a full season or thereabouts -- 15 games to be specific -- he'll get to where he wants to be. 

If you take out his rookie year, before he had established himself as a go-to option in the Patriots offense, Gronkowski has played in three seasons during which he's reached at least 15 games. In each of those three seasons, he's been named an All-Pro. In 2011, he hit all three statistical markers. In 2014, he hit one. In 2015, he hit none. 

The lesson? When Gronkowski stays relatively healthy throughout a given season, even if he doesn't reach the astronomical statistical heights he reached in his second year, there's a very good chance he's considered the best tight end in the NFL. 

And if that's the case again in 2017, he'll be paid like the best tight end in the NFL.

To hit the second tier of his restructured deal -- which would pay him $8.75 million, per Schefter -- Gronkowski needs to play 80 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done twice), or make 70 catches (three times), or gain 1,000 receiving yards (three times), or catch 12 touchdowns (twice). 

To hit the third tier of his new deal and get $6.75 million, Gronkowski needs to play 70 percent of the snaps (which he's done four times), or make 60 catches (three times), or gain 800 receiving yards (three times), or score 10 touchdowns (five times). 

According to Spotrac, Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks is currently scheduled to be the tight end position's top earner next season at $10 million. Odds are that if Gronkowski avoids disaster and stays on the field, he'll eclipse that.

But the odds of him staying on the field are what they are: He's played in 15 games in four of seven pro seasons. 

The restructured deal seems to be the ultimate incentive for Gronkowski to get healthy and stay that way following last year's season-ending back surgery. If he can, the Patriots will reap the benefits of having the game's most dynamic offensive weapon on the field, and the player will be paid a far cry from what he was scheduled to make when the week began.