Patriots

Gronkowski on Miami game return: I wasn't that confident

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Gronkowski on Miami game return: I wasn't that confident

Rob Gronkowski made the rounds on Radio Row at Super Bowl XLVII Thursday. While on WEEI's Mut & Merloni show, the Patriots tight end gave an update on his twice-surgically repaired forearm.
The arms doing all right; just casted it up, he said. Got a lot of time to heal now. So, theres no hurry, no rush. Just taking it week by week and day by day, and just getting it stronger every day. So, Im improving every week. Its the offseason now, so, no time to rush it. Get it 100-percent before camp starts.
Gronkowski's season ended after he re-fractured his left arm in New England's 41-28 Divisional Playoff win over Houston. The injury occurred when he landed hard trying to catch a pass during the Patriots' second series of the game.

Right when I landed obviously I was in huge pain, he recalled. I knew there was something wrong right when I hit. I just wasnt sure what it was because sometimes you get a stinger, sometimes you get a charley horse and they go away after two minutes they just hurt real bad, real quick for like two minutes. So, I was just hoping it was that, like a quick stinger, hitting your joint in your elbow or something where it just numbs your arm real quick. I was just hoping it was one of those. But the pain wasnt going away, obviously, and obviously it broke.
It wasnt the way I wanted to go out. Definitely it wasnt. It is what it was. Thats what happened.
The arm originally broke November 18 in New England's game against Indianapolis. Gronkowski missed the team's next five games before returning to action in the season finale.
The Patriots beat Miami that December day, but the tight end had just two catches in his comeback. It appeared, just by the way he was blocking, that Gronkowski wasn't playing at full capacity. He admitted as much on Thursday.
I really wasnt that confident obviously going in, because obviously I was using one hand, as you can see, he said. I was just getting used to it and all, just getting used to the flow of the game again, its good to get the speed down and all that, and just getting me prepared going into the playoffs, playing in that Miami game.
If the doctors didnt clear me and they said it wasnt smart to play in the Miami game, then I wouldnt have. But the doctors cleared me and they said I was good to go. Obviously I want to be out there whenever I can get out there. So, right when they said I was cleared, I was definitely ready to go.
The Houston game came two weeks later.
Despite the second break, the subsequent setback, Gronkowski maintains he has zero regrets about taking the field for the postseason.
I couldnt really tell you if it was healed or not," he said. "It felt good. Just going into the playoff game I felt ready, I felt confident about it. Like I said, it was just a freak accident. It didnt go the way I planned. It broke in a different spot."

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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