Gronkowski 'jittery' with excitement for Week 1


Gronkowski 'jittery' with excitement for Week 1

FOXBORO -- Each player interview in the Patriots locker room Sunday morning got a preface. It's like there's an unwritten rule that those who'd been felled by Friday's roster cutdown had to first be acknowledged before moving on.
Rob Gronkowski was no exception.
"That shows the business side of the NFL and it's always tough to see your friends go," he said. "Your friends, people that are your mentors, guys that you look up to -- it's tough seeing them go. It's part of the business, but at the same time you wish them luck and you hope that everything works out for everyone that you see go. It's definitely a tough time."
But there's not a lot of time to dwell. This is Week 1, after all.
"It's kind of like last week now, but just focused on the game now that's coming up, Tennessee. Just going to be preparing hard, mentally, physically and getting ready."
The Patriots fly out to visit the Titans this weekend. Gronkowski said he's jittery with excitement to get things kicked off.
But of course. He not only has to answer for his own 2011 season -- the best statistical year for a tight end in NFL history -- he has to do it on a surgically repaired ankle.
Gronkowski believes he's on pace.
"That's what our whole training camp, always out there practice, getting ready. It's up to the coaches how much we play during the preseason games, but I feel that practice-wise, that's where it starts. And continuing from all of camp, practicing all of camp, and going into this week, all the reps we'll be getting this week, a couple practices to get prepared. Definitely feel prepared, hopefully throughout this week too. Get some good physical and mental preparation in to be ready."
Luckily, the tight end is working with Tom Brady and one of the league's most high-powered offenses.
"What I notice about the system is that we're always just trying to get better. Every single week, win or loss, you just want to improve and get better in the areas that you weren't doing so good at. Practice-wise, going back and looking at the film from the practice day before.
"You want to go out on the field and improve what you did wrong. And what you did right, you want to make sure that you're staying up to date, doing those things right, from there on out, every single practice. So basically, it's go time and we have to go out there and practice hard every week, keep the offense in rhythm."
There's no stopping -- as he and the rest of the whittled-down team are currently well aware.

Trump calls on NFL to suspend Marshawn Lynch for season


Trump calls on NFL to suspend Marshawn Lynch for season

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump says the NFL should suspend Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch sat during most of the U.S. anthem and stood for the Mexican anthem before Sunday's game against the Patriots at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Lynch hasn't stood for the national anthem since returning from retirement this season.

Trump tweeted early Monday: "Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down."

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement last season when he refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

Patriots hit heights in altitude of Mexico City against Raiders

Patriots hit heights in altitude of Mexico City against Raiders

In a conference call last week, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio wondered if Sunday's game in Mexico City with the Patriots might show how two contrasting approaches to handling the altitude could impact the outcome. 

Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady made sure of it. 

The Patriots utilized a hurry-up attack during their first drive -- a 16-play sequence -- that tested Oakland's conditioning early. Who would handle it better? The team that spent the week training at altitude in Colorado Springs? Or the team that wanted to beat the effects of the altitude by training at sea level and traveling to Mexico City the day before the game?


Judging by how Raiders rookie defensive back Obi Melifonwu asked to come out of the game, and seeing linebacker Nicholas Morrow doubled over on the sidelines during the series, the Patriots initially looked like the more well-conditioned club. 

Stephon Gilmore and Danny Amendola had to leave the game briefly because they were dehydrated, but the final score, 33-8, suggested that the Patriots were better prepared.

Brady certainly had no issues playing at Estadio Azteca. He finished the game having gone 30-for-37 for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 131.9. 

At various points, Brady's name was chanted at the stadium, which he said caught him by surprise. He recently watched the television copy of last year's Texans-Raiders game just to get a sense for what the crowd would be like, and he remembered hearing Raiders fans dominating the crowd.

"That was very much a surprise," Brady said of the cheers. "Especially since seeing some of last year's game; they were very pro-Raider. But it seemed like we had a lot of Patriots fans here too, so that was great to see."

Rob Gronkowski said that the interaction with the fans in Mexico -- which included walking from the locker room through the stands to the sidelines -- was one of the things that made the trip a memorable one. 

"We really didn't get to do that much, explore around or anything, but we got to interact with the fans and everything coming out of the tunnel," he said. "That was a cool experience, seeing all the fans go wild and everything, giving them high-fives, so that was super neat.

"I wasn't sure what to expect, never played down here. It was a great experience, though. The way the fans were interacting was actually unbelievable. They were super loud. They sounded proud, and it was just a great experience overall coming here. Having that type of experience definitely makes it worthwhile and awesome."

Stephen Gostkowski, who turned in one of the plays of the day with a 62-yard field goal at the end of the first half, was similarly grateful to play in such a unique environment. 

"It was just an unbelievable atmosphere," Gostkowski said. "The stadium was great. The fans were unreal. Just a fun experience. To have a hand in a win, see the excitement from all the guys, it was really cool."

"That was pretty cool," Brady added. "I've been around a long time so if you're a fan of the NFL, you've probably seen me at some point, but it's still an incredible experience to come here and play football and see the reception and hopefully there's more games here, and the game continues to grow, and other people get to see it in person and experience it because it's a game that I love and so do a lot of other people around the world."