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."

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care


Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate. 

It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.

"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."

In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.

"I could care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."

Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.

"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."

Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury


Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

FOXBORO -- Patriots wideout Chris Hogan indicated after Saturday's divisional round win over the Texans that he'd be OK, and he doubled down on that stance when meeting with reporters Tuesday. 

The veteran receiver, whose first season with the Patriots has brought his first career postseason experience, injured his thigh against Houston. He left in the third quarter and did not return. 

"Feeling good," Hogan said. "Just had a little minor setback in the game. I'm working back every single day and feeling better every day."

Hogan had an awkward collision with Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney at the end of the first half on a play at the goal line. To that point, he had reeled in four passes for 95 yards as the team's primary deep threat. With Hogan out, Brady relied upon Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd as wideouts.

Hogan explained that he was expecting to practice this week.

"I'm just gonna go day by day," he said. "Come in here tomorrow. Everything's been feeling better day by day. I'm looking forward to getting out there and practicing this week."