Patriots

'Twinkle Toes' Gronkowski? In Belichick's eyes, anyway

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'Twinkle Toes' Gronkowski? In Belichick's eyes, anyway

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski has plenty of nicknames. There's the obvious abbreviation of his last name. There's what Tom Brady calls him, borrowing from Marshawn Lynch: "Beast Mode."

Bill Belichick has also gotten in on the nickname game for his massive tight end, apparently. What it lacks in intimidation it makes up for with . . . sparkle?

Gronkowski was told on Wednesday afternoon that when Belichick broke down his 33-yard touchdown against the Jets, he made a point to highlight Gronkowski's high-stepping into the end zone.

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"Oh, he liked that? It didn’t seem like he liked it," Gronkowski said with a smile. "He says I've got twinkle toes, so I’ll take Twinkle Toes. I like when I have twinkle toes -- that means I’m feeling good. I’m feeling it."

Gronkowski finished the game with 6 catches for 83 yards and two scores, and if he stays healthy he's on pace for 78 catches for 1,203 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Those numbers would put him in contention for a first-team All-Pro nod, which would earn him the max $10.75 million for 2017 that's been written into his incentive-laden contract for this season.

Even if he isn't an All-Pro, 1,200 receiving yards would also trigger the max value of the deal. Seventy catches, 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns would trigger the second tier of Gronkowski's incentives, paying him $8.75 million. Sixty catches, 800 yards or 10 touchdowns would pay him $6.75 million -- up from the minimum of $5.25 million he's  guaranteed for this season.

Numbers aside, part of what has made Gronkowski's season so impressive is that he's been an impactful run-blocker and pass-protector when asked. On Dion Lewis' first carry of the game against the Jets, Gronkowski sealed a defensive lineman and allowed Lewis to bounce outside for nine yards. On a goal-line run in the second quarter, Lewis ran right behind Gronkowski to get into the end zone. 

During training camp, as Gronkowski returned to the field after season-ending back surgery, the physical aspect of the game didn't necessarily look like one of his strong suits. He was on the ground more than reporters are used to seeing, and there were questions as to whether or not at this stage of his career he would be able to be the well-rounded tight end that has made him such a dynamic weapon in years past. 

After five games, it's clear he has his feet under him. 

"It's definitely part of the game, a big part of the game," he said. "You want to be able to block. It helps in the play-action passes big time to get open. It just helps overall. It helps with the running game to be able to block and you want a run game. You don't just want a pass game. 

"It takes time. When you get to training camp you've got to build your foundation. You’ve got to build that base and taking all of those hits in training camp and it progresses throughout the season. Just building the base throughout training camp and you just want to be the best blocker that you can be to help out the team."

A hard-nosed blocker who occasionally flashes twinkle toes? Though he may poke fun, Belichick's no doubt pleased he has himself a tight end who can do both.

"Yeah, he said I had twinkle toes," Gronkowski said. "I took it as a compliment . . . I like twinkle toes."

You can watch Belichick's breakdown of Gronkowski's celebration -- he also looked at his team's execution against a two-man Jets rush, its hustle on kickoffs, and a 58-yard net punt by Ryan Allen -- on Patriots.com.

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Jaguars miffed at lack of penalty calls on Patriots

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Jaguars miffed at lack of penalty calls on Patriots

The Jaguars clearly felt as though they were given the short end of the stick when it came to the officiating on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. 

Jacksonville ended up having six accepted penalties for 98 yards while the Patriots had one penalty called against them -- a Marquis Flowers hold on a kick return -- for 10 yards. 

The feeling the Patriots locker room after the game was that Clete Blakeman's crew erred on the side of not officiating too aggressively. But the Jaguars felt as though there was something else at play. 

"I was pissed because I seen Amendola head-butt the hell out of [Tashaun Gipson] in front of the ref and you all don't call nothing?" cornerback A.J. Bouye said, per ESPN. "It don't make no sense man; it's a lot of stuff that don't make no sense. I have a lot of respect for these people in this locker room. They kept fighting, we all kept fighting. We knew there was stuff we couldn't control, and we kept it close."

Bouye was flagged for a pass-interference penalty on Brandin Cooks that gave the Patriots 32 yards late in the second quarter and helped set up James White's score just before the break. Cooks also drew a 36-yard pass-interference call on Jalen Ramsey in the fourth quarter.

"I just got to watch the tape," Bouye said. "I need to go look at the rulebook on [pass interference penalties], because you're telling me the receiver can have his hands on me the whole way down the field, but if I look for the ball and try to protect myself from being pushed, it's a flag?

"Like I said, I just have to be better. I can't put my team in that situation. It's a flag, I got to own up to it, find a way to get better at it."

Myles Jack was asked about the penalty numbers, and replied, "Interesting. My thoughts on that is . . . yeah, that's kind of self-explanatory. I didn't know that.

"I'll just say that's self-explanatory. Interesting. That's all I'm going to say."

Ice fishing and milking cows: Minnesota special for Brady long before Super Bowl LII

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Ice fishing and milking cows: Minnesota special for Brady long before Super Bowl LII

Tom Brady is headed back to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII. That's right. "Back." The California kid spent some memorable moments there growing up. 

On WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show, Brady explained that his mother Galynn was from Browerville, Minnesota, which is about a two-hour ride from US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"My grandparents lived there, and my grandma died of multiple sclerosis quite a few years ago," Brady said. "She was in a nursing home and my grandpa was a farmer. He was a dairy farmer, had a lot of cows and he farmed corn. Every year we would go back in the summer and spend weeks.

"We’d go fishing in the summer, ice fishing in the winter, and milk the cows with my grandpa, and just kind of tend to the farm. It was a great experience for me, [being] born in California."

Brady said that when the Patriots last traveled to play the Vikings, in Week 2 of the 2014 season, he had plenty of family show up. And he's looking forward to having loads of support when he and his teammates travel that way again to play the Eagles on Feb. 4. 

"I’ve always felt a connection to Minnesota," Brady said. "It will be fun because my uncles live there, my cousins. We were just back there last year when my grandpa passed away. It’s just a great place. It’s really special to go back there. The last time we played in Minnesota, I had a lot of people come, a lot of family and extended family. So it will be a lot of great support there in Minnesota too."