Patriots

If this was Rob Gronkowski's last home game as a Patriot, he went out with a bang

If this was Rob Gronkowski's last home game as a Patriot, he went out with a bang

FOXBOROUGH – As the rumors of Rob Gronkowski’s potential flirtation with retirement swirl once again, one can’t help but wonder if Sunday afternoon was Rob Gronkowski’s final walk off the Gillette Stadium turf of his NFL career.

Asked about this possibility following the Patriots’ 41-28 thrashing of Los Angeles in an AFC divisional round matchup, Gronkowski said his focus was on the Chargers and that it would be the same way next week when the Patriots travel to Kansas City for the AFC Championship.

“I’m all-in right now,” he said. “We’ve got the Kansas City Chiefs now. It’s going to be another week of preparation, and I haven’t thought about anything like that, so just got to go all-in, keep our focus and keep on doing what we’ve got to do.”

The 29-year-old veteran has taken countless brutal hits and battled numerous injuries throughout his nine-year career in New England, but has continually shot down speculation that he’s hanging up the cleats after this season. Last month, he told reporters he was “all-in” for 2018, saying, “I love the grind.”

Sunday morning, that speculation was brought to the forefront again by a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport saying Gronk will “strongly consider retirement” once the 2018 season has ended.

PATRIOTS 41, CHARGERS 28

So, Gronkowski was asked in a follow-up Sunday, what are the thoughts right now?

“That I’m going to have to enjoy the win,” he said. “That’s what we do. You get one night to enjoy the win, actually around here. You do, you get one night. And then when you wake up tomorrow morning, then it’s on to Kansas City.”

If this truly was No. 87’s last performance in front of the fans that have come to deify him over the last decade, it was defined in a manner perhaps too befitting of him. 

After all, how many skill-position players in the NFL can honestly say they dominated a game without even really touching the ball?

Gronkowski was targeted just once, his only catch coming on one of those customary lumbering car crashes over the middle that fans in New England have venerated time and again. And yet, those big, glue-trap mitts of No. 87 are all over the blueprint of every rushing touchdown New England scored. 

PATRIOTS 41, CHARGERS 28

Whether it was barrel-rolling into Darius Philon to open up Sony Michel’s first score of the game, a one-yard dive; velcroing himself to Hayes Pullard at the second level to open up the alley for Michel to dive at the pylon for his second score; putting Kyle Emanuel on roller skates for Rex Burkhead’s lone score; or leading the pile-push that netted Michel his third rushing score; this may have very well been one of Gronk’s most complete games of the season.

“Just to be able to run the ball, to be able to block, I mean, I’ve never taken it for granted,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve always loved run blocking. I love to do the balance of both.”  

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K.J. Hill's recap of meeting with Patriots included interesting coaching nugget

K.J. Hill's recap of meeting with Patriots included interesting coaching nugget

It's sometimes interesting to hear what players talk about when they meet with teams at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In K.J. Hill's case, what's interesting was who he talked to.

The Ohio State wide receiver prospect recently met with the Patriots and apparently had a productive conversation with the team.

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"It went well," Hill said, via NESN.com's Zack Cox. "Mainly, we were talking about plays. I did a lot of similar things [to] their offense, and they were just trying to pick my brain about what we did. And come to find out, it was mostly the same plays.

" …[We talked about] motioning, seeing if it was man or zone, using option routes — definitely what (Julian) Edelman was doing. I was talking to the receivers coach about that."

According to our Phil Perry, the "receivers coach" Hill referred to was Troy Brown, who's not listed on New England's coaching staff but helped the Patriots' wide receivers in an unofficial capacity last season.

New England has been without a wide receivers coach since Joe Judge took the New York Giants' head coach job, but if Brown is interviewing receiver prospects at the NFL Combine (who think he's the team's receivers coach), does that mean he's in line to succeed Judge?

That's speculation, but Brown seems well-suited for the role. The three-time Super Bowl champion -- who spent his entire 15-year playing career in New England -- was a presence at Patriots training camp last year and worked closely with rookie wideout N'Keal Harry.

Recently-hired assistant Jedd Fisch (whose role is still unclear) also could be a candidate for Patriots wide receivers coach: He worked with the Denver Broncos' wide receivers in 2008 and the Michigan Wolverines' receivers in 2015 and 2016 and most recently served as the Los Angeles Rams' assistant offensive coordinator.

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LSU tight end admits to being 'kinda scared' in meeting with Patriots

LSU tight end admits to being 'kinda scared' in meeting with Patriots

The New England Patriots don't fool around.

They are all about winning and will work harder than anyone else to make sure those objectives are met. These elite levels of dedication and preparation are among the reasons why the Patriots have enjoiyed an unprecedented run of success for the last 20 years, which includes six Super Bowl championships.

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This worth ethic was not lost on LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan, who admitted to being "kinda scared" meeting with the Patriots at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week.

Tight end is among the primary needs for the Patriots, and Sullivan is one of the top 10 players at the position in this draft class. 

Sullivan tallied 12 receptions for 130 yards in six games for the undefeated and national champion Tigers last season. He also impressed at the combine by running the second-fastest 40 time of all the tight ends. 

Sullivan's speed and size (6-foot-5 and 248 pounds) make him an intriguing target for teams in need of a tight end. He's likely to be drafted on Day 3, which is when rounds four through seven take place.

He's not the only tight end who the Patriots made an impression on this week. Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney revealed the Patriots said one of his answers in an interview with the team was a "loser's mentality."

Whether it's Sullivan, Pinkney or someone else, it wouldn't be surprising if the Patriots select at least one tight end in April's draft. They need much better offensive production from their tight ends than what they received in the 2019 season.

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