Brady happy to see Gronkowski healthy after work with Alex Guerrero

Brady happy to see Gronkowski healthy after work with Alex Guerrero

Saturday wasn’t just about Tom Brady’s preseason debut, or Jimmy Garoppolo’s turnovers, or an encouraging drive from Rex Burkhead with which we’ll likely get carried away, or Cyrus Jones’ punt returns. It was about Rob Gronkowski playing in a preseason game. 

Although Gronkowski turned heads in a memorable 2010 preseason debut, he hasn’t exactly been a safe bet to be seen by exhibition attendees. As he has battled injuries and the Patriots have managed him over the years, Gronkowski went four straight preseasons without taking the field once. 

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That changed Saturday, when the veteran tight end played in 13 snaps over two series. He didn’t get a single target, but he also left the game unscathed after being limited to just eight games last season. 

“It was great,” Brady said of seeing Gronkowski play. “I think for all of us to get out there and play is just something you can’t ever replicate in just practice. To get those reps in and to get the speed of the game, everything’s just happening the way it normally happens. For him to be out there for all of training camp, he’s building so much confidence and I’m proud of him, so we’ve just got to keep it going.” 

Brady has attributed much of his success to personal trainer Alex Guerrero, a controversial figure who has been accused of being a “snake oil salesman” who pretended to be a doctor when he wasn’t. 

Controversial or not, Brady and Guerrero have found results in keeping the quarterback healthy and in tremendous shape at age 40. Trying to find similar results, Gronkowski began working with Guerrero this offseason. 

Asked about the two working together following Saturday’s preseason loss to the Texans, Brady was measured in his response. 

“Everyone knows how I feel about that,” Brady said, with “that” seemingly meaning working with Guerrero. “I’m just happy that he’s out there playing and healthy and building his confidence. I think that’s what everyone’s out there to try to do. Different types of experiences that you have force you to do different things, and I’m just proud of his effort.”  

Bean's thoughts from Patriots-Texans: Brissett's win streak vs. Texans finally ends

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Bean's thoughts from Patriots-Texans: Brissett's win streak vs. Texans finally ends

Jacoby Brissett’s dominance over the Texans has ended. 

The third-string quarterback led a comeback effort on New England’s final drive of the game, but a fumble while trying to throw in the red zone led to the ball going out of the end zone for a touchback to secure a 27-23 Houston victory Saturday night. 

The loss for the Pats dropped New England to 0-2 this preseason, taking the Patriots from being considered Super Bowl favorites to for sure remaining Super Bowl favorites. 

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Ultimately, Saturday’s game wasn’t about Brissett, however, but rather Tom Brady. The 40-year-old quarterback made his preseason debut, playing two series for New England. Rob Gronkowski also played, taking the field for two series in his first preseason action since 2012. 

THE QUARTERBACKS

Tom Brady: 6-of-9, 67 yards, 1 TD, O INT
Jimmy Garoppolo: 15-of-23, TD, INT, lost fumble 
Jacoby Brissett: 5-of-10, 36 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

TD-REX 

Tom Brady sassed Rex Burkhead for not hurrying back to the huddle after a first down on the Pats’ second drive, but that was the lone hiccup in an otherwise whopper of a drive for the duo. 

Brady and Burkhead connected twice on the drive, capped by a 22-yard touchdown on an angle route for the former Bengal. Burkhead’s other catch on the drive went for 16 yards, with him rushing for 12 yards during the series. 

Burkhead, who got the start, totaled seven rushes for 20 yards and three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. 

JIMMY GAROPPOLO: BAD PRACTICE PLAYER, GOOD ACTUAL PLAYER, GOOD PRESEASON PLAYER, BAD PRESEASON PLAYER

The back-and-forth surrounding what kind of player Jimmy Garoppolo went from “good preseason player” last week back to “possibly bad preseason player.” I don’t think the hourly update on the guy is exactly necessary, but we’re pot committed at this point. 

Garoppolo was being chased in the backfield early in the fourth quarter when, seemingly in an attempt to throw the ball away, he instead gave it away. The fourth-year quarterback didn’t sail his throw nearly high enough, and thus it was picked by Denzel Rice. The Texans scored a touchdown on the ensuing series. 

Worth keeping in mind as we closely monitor Garoppolo’s practice snaps and preseason throws: He’s never thrown a pick in an actual game. 

ROBERTS HURT

Elandon Roberts was carted off in the third quarter after a collision with Jonathan Freeney. Shortly after, the Patriots announced he had a rib injury.

Earlier in the game, Vincent Valentine suffered what looked to be a left leg injury, but he returned to the game. Malcolm Mitchell was repeatedly spotted grabbing his right knee after plays. 

NOT MUCH COOKIN’ WITH TOP RECEIVERS

The second preseason game saw such receivers as Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola play, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on in their limited action. Cooks caught the only pass that was thrown his way for a seven-yard reception, with Amendola also making one catch for six yards. Edelman didn’t catch either of his targets, while the only pass Brady threw to Hogan was intercepted, but ruled an incompletion given that the defensive back didn’t have both feet in bounds. 

ROUGH START FOR BUTLER 

Stephon Gilmore lost out on a fumble recovery because the play on which he scooped up the ball was ruled an incomplete pass, but he probably couldn’t complain considering how the night started for fellow corner Malcolm Butler. 

The fourth-year corner was beaten along the sideline by Bruce Ellington on a jump ball for a 37-yard play on Houston’s first drive. On the following drive, Jaelen Strong beat Butler in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.  

CYRUS JONES BEGINS COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR BID

Hey, speaking of corners, something good involving Cyrus Jones happened. 

The second-year player had a 32-yard punt return in the second quarter and then a 15-yard return in the fourth. He got burned for long touchdowns zero times, which is two times less than he did in the preseason opener against the Jaguars. Progress. 

STARTERS

Offense: Cameron Fleming, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, James Develin, Rex Burkhead, Tom Brady

Defense: Kony Ealy, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Trey Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, David Harris, Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty

Gronkowski takes the field vs. Texans for first preseason action since 2012

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Gronkowski takes the field vs. Texans for first preseason action since 2012

HOUSTON -- When Rob Gronkowski took the field with his teammates for Saturday's preseason matchup with the Texans, that came as no surprise. That he was wearing his large arm pad on his left arm? That was unexpected.

Gronkowski often dresses in full uniform for preseason games, but he hasn't taken a preseason snap since 2012. The arm pad typically stays in the locker room. That he had it on at NRG Stadium signalled that he'd be on the field for some exhibition work for the first time in five years. 

Gronkowski started the game for the Patriots offense, as did Tom Brady, and played 15 snaps. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end was not targeted in the passing game, but he did help run off the Texans defense, clearing room for Rex Burkhead to take a dump-off 16 yards at the end of the first quarter. 

That Gronkowski escaped unscathed is obviously good news for the Patriots, but the fact that he played at all may signal a slightly different approach for the team and its injury-prone tight end. Gronkowski saw plenty of work in joint practices against the Texans at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, but Bill Belichick and his staff obviously thought some work in a game situation would be good for him. 

Brady played 17 snaps and completed 6-of-9 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown to Burkhead. Brady was drilled by Ufomba Kamalu -- someone who may be on the Patriots radar after Kamalu had a good two-day stretch of joint practices -- but found Burkhead for a 22-yard score five plays later.