FOXBORO - There has been so much noise about the recent ESPN article on the Patriots and their reported dysfunction that the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans on Saturday has been nothing more than an afterthought this week, at least in terms of media attention.
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Of course, for an organization that prides itself on being able to not only block out distractions but thrives amid them, this may actually be fuel to their postseason fire.
“The feeling around here, the intensity is high, the preparation is high just like any other time,” said Rob Gronkowski. “It’s just like any other week. I feel like if anything it’s just going to bring us closer and it’s going to bond us together. The feel is no different than any other week going on right now. It’s good. We just had a good practice week. Everything’s feeling good and just excited for the big game, but first off, we’ve got a big week ahead of us to prepare.”
Gronk is well-versed in the Patriots approach to such matters. How many times has it happened before? And how many times have the Pats managed to put on their blinders and emerge victoriously?
“I mean, throughout my years here I’ve seen a lot of negative, a lot of positive,” he said. “The reputation that Coach [Bill Belichick] tries to get us to have is just ignore the noise. Ignore the noise from the outside and I feel like that’s what myself, a lot of other players have been doing. You’ve just got to keep ignoring the noise and just keep our focus on what we’ve been doing all year and that’s preparing hard, studying our opponent, getting ready mentally and physically for the big game. No matter what’s going on on the outside, as a team, as an organization we’ve just got to keep grinding and keep going and keep doing our job.”
The All-Pro tight end has had to deal with his fair share of adversity over the years, including back surgery which cost him the postseason last year. So you know what that means?
“I’m excited, definitely. I wasn’t part of it last year, but not looking in the back, just looking forward to this game, man. I’m super excited to be back out there with the team. Just super excited today out there on the field with the boys again. We had a couple of days off. It’s my first playoff game in a while, so I’m excited, man. I’ve just got to take it one day at a time right now.”