Patriots

Brady bristles against finesse tag

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Brady bristles against finesse tag

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady was asked Wednesday about Rob Gronkowski, specifically, if the tough, rangy tight end gives the offense some edginess. Brady confirmed the idea but he didn't stop there. The question sparked something in the Patriots quarterback.

He almost became defensive.

"Football's all about playing physical. It's a physical sport, and if you're a finesse team you don't usually last very long. And that's what we're trying to be; we're trying to be a physical team that's tough."

Ah. The dreaded "f" word.

Finesse.

"Whether you're on the line of scrimmage and they're pressing you that you get off the line of scrimmage; whether you're running the ball, or whether you're running the ball out at the end of the game; when you're in a third-and-1 situation or a goal line situation. All of those things really relate to the toughness of the offense. And that's stuff we're trying to build on."

He didn't say the Patriots are battling a stigma but the notion is safely assumed. New England is not a ground-and-pound offense. Days before the teams faced off in Oakland, Raiders linebacker Rolando McLain tagged his opponent as "just a finesse team." For what the word is worth in the NFL, he might as well have insulted Belichick's mother. It means the offense is pretty with no power.

Finesse not force. One or the other.

Brady says he knows what makes a team tough. And he thinks his guys have what it takes to cultivate that identity.

"I think it comes down to those situation plays that I talked about. Like, third-and-1, you're not throwing it. First-and-goal on the one, you're not throwing it. Four minutes left in the game and you've got a lead, you're not throwing it . . . Like we did against the Jets, where we ran it 9-of-11, or 10-of-11, times right at the end of the game to end it. That's what it means to be tough and physical."

While the point is well taken, there's evidence to the contrary. Last week in Pittsburgh the Patriots got the ball back with 6:03 left on the clock, down 23-14. Brady ended up with a third-and-1 on the Steelers' 1-yard line toward the end of the drive. He threw the ball. Fourth-and-1, he threw the ball. Ryan Mundy intercepted the pass to Rob Gronkowski but the pick was nullified by a penalty. First-and-1 on the Steelers' 1. Brady threw the ball.

The Patriots got the touchdown. But one yard short and you get three plays on three throws? What does that say about the rush?

"Finesse in football? Yes, it's a dirty word," Brady said. "This isn't a finesse sport, so, you won't go very far as a team."

How far will the Patriots go? Forget time; only toughness will tell.

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's never suffered a break like the one Gordon Hayward did on Tuesday night, but he has been through enough to know what lies ahead as the Celtics forward stares at a lengthy recovery period.

"I saw it. I mean, I wish him nothing but wellness," Gronkowski said on Wednesday. "Hopefully he heals ASAP. You never want to see that with a player in any sport. When my friend showed me that last night, you get that feeling in your body, like, your heart drops. I wish him well.

"I can't wait to see him back. I know he's going to bounce back. Being here in Boston, he's going to be a hard worker it feels like. I can't wait to see him back."

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Multiple back surgeries, a plate in his arm, a surgically-repaired ACL . . . Gronkowski has put in his share of rehabilitation work. Asked if he'd give Hayward any advice as he embarks on his road back to normalcy, Gronkowski's message was simple.

"Just go into rehab just like you go into anything else. Dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you're 100 percent . . . He wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't a hard worker. I don't know the guy. Never met him. But it's not something you want to see as an athlete happen to anyone else."

Gronkowski acknowledged that in his experience, one of the biggest hurdles following an injury like that is the mental one. You quickly go from being a powerful athlete to a patient in need of help with even the smallest of tasks. 

"There is a big mental challenge, definitely, with that," Gronkowski explained. "It's not just not being able to be with your teammates and all that. It's outside of football, too. Because it takes away your whole life, going out like that . . . You can't do anything. You can't walk. You gotta have people do [things for you]. You get really frustrated. You just want the people around you to help you out and keep you in the best mindset throughout the whole process."

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore, Rowe absent; Hogan added

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore, Rowe absent; Hogan added

FOXBORO -- Chris Hogan only had one catch for 19 yards against the Jets. He very nearly had a second grab in the second quarter, but Tom Brady's throw was off the mark, and Hogan's ribs were exposed for rookie safety Marcus Maye to hammer. The pass fell incomplete and Hogan crumpled to the turf. 

He didn't leave the game, but Hogan did end up on Wednesday's injury report as a limited participant in practice due to a ribs injury. He was one of three players added to this week's injury report. Linebacker Elandon Roberts has an ankle injury and did not participate in Wednesday's workout. Guard Shaq Mason has a shoulder issue and was limited. 

Eric Rowe and Stephon Gilmore, neither of whom were spotted at the start of the session, did not participate.

Here's Wednesday's full practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Falcons game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)

ATLANTA FALCONS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
K Matt Bryant (back)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)