Gronkowski ready for anything vs. Eagles

Gronkowski ready for anything vs. Eagles
November 26, 2011, 12:26 am
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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."