Patriots

Gronkowski responds to lack of targets: 'I came here to block, baby!'

Patriots

Rob Gronkowski hasn't featured much in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing attack through two games, but he doesn't seem too bothered by that fact.

“I mean, I’m a blocking tight end. I came here to block, baby!” Gronkowski said with a huge smile during a Friday press conference. “So four targets is four more than I thought I was going to get.”

That's right -- Gronkowski has only been targeted four times by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady in two games. One of those passes intended for the veteran tight end was intercepted in Tampa Bay's Week 2 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Gronkowski has always been a tremendous blocker as a tight end. Not only is he very fundamentally sound blocking in the run game, his superior size and strength at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds isn't easy for defensive players to deal with.

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But the Buccaneers probably didn't give up a fourth-round pick to acquire Gronkowski in a trade with the New England Patriots and pay him $9 million this season with the intent of having the tight end primarily serve as a blocker.

At some point, Gronkowski will need to make an impact in the passing game for the Bucs offense to reach its full potential.

"Every game plan can change differently week in, week out," Gronkowski said. "There's sometimes in my career I would be targeted 15 times and there’s other times I’d be targeted just a few. It all depends on how the defenses are playing us. How the defenses are lining up against us. Who they’re taking away, and all that good stuff.

 

“It’s just two weeks into the season, so I’ve just got to go out there and keep on fighting, you know? Just give it my all in whatever aspect of the game it is.”

It was always unfair to expect Gronkowski to play at an elite level early in his Bucs career after spending an entire year away from pro football and then moving to a new team with a new coach and a bunch of new teammates. Gronkowski knows he just has to keep improving little by little if he's going to make a meaningful impact.

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“I’ve just got to keep working hard, though. There’s always areas I can improve big time, especially in the pass game," Gronkowski said. 

"It doesn’t matter if you get a lot of passes called your way, if I’m not ready then it’s never going to work, so I’ve just got to be ready at all times and just improve my game both in the pass game and run game. I can definitely improve.”

Gronkowski and the Buccaneers have a short stretch over the next three weeks against inferior opponents that will be pivotal to Tampa Bay's offense building the necessary chemistry for the rest of the season.

This process resumes Sunday with a Week 3 matchup against the Broncos in Denver, a place where Gronkowski has given some pretty impressive performances in his Hall of Fame career.