The New England Patriots are not known for paying money to players before they have to, especially with players who have had serious health issues throughout their career. That said, they are obviously convinced that their All-Pro tight end, Rob Gronkowski, is healthy and no risk as they advanced his bonus payment, which they weren’t required to do until after the season.
You may ask why, but if you do it’s obvious you didn’t watch what he did last year. He has become, without any doubt, the most feared TE in the game and, if he stays healthy, could well become the best to ever play the game. There really was no negative to moving the bonus date up. after all:
It keeps him happy…and keeping Gronkowski happy is…well, smart!
It doesn’t impact the salary cap
The move puts a positive spin on training camp and, for the moment, takes the spotlight away from legal issues (Duh)
Let the Party Bus roll as family and fans celebrate, Rob Gronkowski is signed, sealed & delivered for at least five more years!
Day one of New England Patriots training camp is officially in the books. Fans piled into the practice field stands and the famous hill, to watch their favorite team take the field for the first practice of the summer. Many fans most likely had a very tough time telling which players were which, because in typical Bill Belichick fashion he sent his players onto the field without jersey numbers. The only thing the casual fan could tell was that quarterbacks were in red, offense in gray shirts, and defense in blue shirts.
I was in attendance at practice, and because I spend too much learning every minute detail of these players, I did not have an overly tough time deciphering which players were which. Seeing how the players were in just shorts, t-shirts, and helmets there was virtually zero contact.
The lack of physicality made it very difficult for defensive players and offensive lineman to stand out. Therefore, I really limited myself to evaluating some of the skill position groups that were really on display. This meant predominately quarterbacks, wide receivers, and slightly tight ends and running backs.
The running backs that were out on the field today were Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, Tyler Gaffney, Dion Lewis, and James White. When it came to first team reps with Tom Brady and company, Brandon Bolden received almost all of the snaps when the offense was in shot gun, (which was almost every snap).
Furthermore, in goal line drills, the Patriots lined up in the jumbo set with six offensive lineman, with Gronkowksi and Chandler on the end, and Jonas Gray running the ball behind James Develin in the, “I” formation. Jonas Gray was big to begin with, now he looks significantly thicker, and Josh McDaniels seems to be looking to get him involved in the passing game.
Patriots fans got their first glimpse of Tyler Gaffney today, and it was in a limited role. He received decent reps, but mostly just running the ball in simulated goal line situations. He also got some special teams work in.
The wide receivers were harder to tell apart. Obviously Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are easy to tell apart, but players such as Josh Boyce, Brandon Gibson, and Chris Harper are not as easy. Amendola and Edelman looked impressive as always. Brady targeted Edelman more than any other receivers, connecting every time they attempted, with the exception of one post corner route in the back of the end zone, dropped by Edelman.
Both Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms saw a lot of time on opposite sides of the field. Dobson was with Brady and the first team, and Tyms with Garoppolo and the second team. Garoppolo targeted Brian Tyms a total of six times throughout the day during team drills, going four for six, based on my observations, and as expected they were all fade routes and skinny posts. Dobson was on the field a lot with Brady, but the ball did not come his way very often.
At tight end, there are few words to say other than, Rob Gronkowski is a freak. He caught multiple passes in traffic from Tom Brady, the most impressive being a skinny post route in which he caught the ball while shaking off Tavon Wilson like he was nothing, and spiking the ball in the process. In addition, Jake Bequette did not impress at tight end. He has the physical stature to be a beastly blocking tight end, however he has stone hands, dropping passes on multiple occasions.
Quarterback was by the far the easiest position to evaluate, given the fact that there was only two quarterbacks on the field. Tom Brady impressed as he always does in training camp. His passes were pinpoint and he also showed a little bit of athleticism. Early on in practice Brady caught a fade in the corner of the end zone from Julian Edelman. Then later on he caught another pass down the sideline from Julian Edelman on a reverse pass, this time he only needed one hand.
Many were probably expecting to see a slightly improved Jimmy Garoppolo from the one they had seen in December. If you went to Patriots training camp with these expectations, you left disappointed. His first pass of the day was an interception to rookie Matthew Wells or Jordan Richards. He simply can’t throw the ball down field and he seems to be afraid to even try it. Brady certainly does not have a cannon for an arm, but he makes decisions quickly and gets rid of the football. Jimmy panics when his first read is gone, looks around and then dumps it off to James White. If it were a real game situation he would be put in the turf fairly quick.
I hope to attend training camp more in the coming days, so stay tuned for more updates and analysis of the Patriots practices.
Rob, Dan, Chris, Gordie Jr. and Gordie Sr. took on the Peete family on tonight’s episode of Celebrity Family Feud. The Gronkowski family came to play for a chance for win $25,000 for their favorite charity, Rodman Rides for Kids, a charity that helps at-risk youth in Massachusetts. Of course, there is no Gronk appearance without any of his infamous dance moves, and Steve Harvey made sure to get that out of the way within the first few minutes of the show.
First ones up were Rob Gronkowski and Holly Robinson-Peete, who had to name name something that can be inflated or deflated. How appropriate.
Rob was quick to dodge this one, leaving former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete to dish out the controversial answer: football (touché). Shockingly, it wasn’t the highest answer, that went to tires (and rightfully so).
The Gronks went full steam ahead with the lead into the second round, where both families had to come up with the best answers to complete the phrase, “A guys is too drunk when he tries to pick up his …”. The best answer came from the youngest Gronk, Chris who finished the sentence with “sister”. Unfortunately for viewers, that is where the Gronks peaked, as they did not win that round or the next and were left out of the Fast Money round.
Win or lose, survey says the Gronks will shimmey this one off. Or twerk it off.
The winner of this year’s Comeback Player of the Year at the ESPYs almost didn’t make it on stage. Heck, at just 21 years old, he faced the possibility of having to turn away from the one thing that propelled him to super stardom and a Super Bowl ring: football.
During his junior year of college, Rob Gronkowski suffered from a ruptured disk in his spinal cord that sidelined him the entire season. He made the gutsy decision to forego his senior season to keep playing football on the professional level. After getting selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the New England Patriots, the Gronk roared on to the scene, scoring 10 touchdowns for the season and bringing “The Gronk Spike” to fruition. By Week 13 of his sophomore season, he had surpassed his rookie season’s touchdown total AND broken the NFL record for touchdowns scored in a single season.
Then came the playoffs, which ended in heartbreak for more reasons than one.
Another Super Bowl loss to the Giants was gut-wrenching. But getting news that Gronk would have to undergo surgery to repair strained ligaments in his ankle left fans disheveled. He fought back and had another successful season with 11 more touchdown receptions to boast about before breaking and re-breaking his forearm in 2012. Four forearm surgeries, another back surgery and a surgery to repair a torn ACL AND MCL later, the Gronk found himself overcoming adversity once again. This time, one of the twelve touchdown receptions he scored in the 2014 season came in the second quarter of an unforgettable Super Bowl XLIX victory.
Now, he’s everywhere. Daytime talk shows. Late night talk shows. Blockbuster movies. Commercials. Erotic novels. Center stage, at the ESPYs, receiving another accolade that further justifies the hard work and dedication he has put into his career. And probably another viral video filled with reckless and shameless dance moves.
Whether you like it or not, it’s Gronk’s world and we’re just living in it.
There may not be a more important position for the New England Patriots outside of Quarterback than the TE, with the Patriots ranking 2nd in receptions, and 1st in both yards and touchdowns coming from the position in 2014.
Those rankings are due in very large part thanks to Rob Gronkowski’s monster regular season where he was ranked #1 among all NFL TE in yards, average per catch, yards per game, receptions of twenty plus yards, first downs and touchdowns (NFL.com). The only stat Gronkowski didn’t come in first was receptions where he ranked 4th in the NFL. He is no question the best at his position in the league when healthy, and the Patriots success in 2015 will count on Gronk staying on the field throughout the regular and post season.
No doubt the question at the position is the second and third slots on the depth chart. New comer Scott Chandler looks to be #2 at the TE slot when the 2015 regular season starts and he is absolutely no stranger to the Pats Nation having played the team twice a year since 2011. Chandler was often a thorn in the side of the Patriots defense during those games accounting for 4TD’s and over 350yds in those 8 games (pro-football-reference.com). At 6-7 and 280lbs Scott will be another monster big man for Tom Brady to target down field and in the end zone.
The third slot may be a bit of a question mark. With veteran TE Michael Hoomanawanui, rookie big man out of Arkansas AJ Derby, and converted DE Jake Bequette making the move to the offensive position.
The “Hooman” had a significant drop in production last year catching only 3 passes with no scores and missing blocks all over the place allowing for the edge to get to Brady in the backfield.
AJ Derby was selected in the 6th round with the 202nd pick and has high upside as a TE in the NFL. He is fast for a big man running a 4.69 40yrd dash at the 2015 NFL combine with his only downside being that he had only one year at the position in Arkansas system. The lack of experience shouldn’t outweigh his ability to line up all over the field with speed and size.
Bill Belichick thinks Jake Bequette is “in good position to compete” for a spot at TE after swapping his DE position for the end on the offensive side of the ball. He does have some experience at the position playing TE in high school and his first year as a redshirt freshman at Arkansas.
My prediction TE depth- 1st Gronk, 2nd Chandler, 3rd Derby, reserve Bequette (Hoomanawanui gets cut for $1.38 million cap savings)
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