Patriots

Jags safety says Gronk hit was unavoidable

Jags safety says Gronk hit was unavoidable

FOXBORO -- During the tail end of the season, Rob Gronkowski was probably the league’s most unstoppable skill player. If any team was going to beat the Patriots, it needed to stop Gronk.

The Jaguars stopped Gronk on Sunday. They still didn’t win.

PATRIOTS 24, JAGUARS 20

The Patriots tight end was driven from the game by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church. Gronk, running down the seam on a first-and-10 play with 1:28 left in the half, was hammered by Church, who really didn’t have a lot of options on the play. The throw was too up-for-grabs for Church to ignore the chance of picking it off. And by the time a pick was out of the question, the collision was inevitable.

“I just tried to dislodge the ball,” Church explained. “He’s a big dude and I was just trying to dislodge the ball but I gueess they felt it was too high of a hit. I hope he’s healthy. I know he didn’t come back so I hope he’s alright. It was a tough call but you have to go with what they call. It’s the toughest play in football.  If you go low for the knees you are considered a dirty player and if you go high, they throw the flag at you. It’s a bang-bang play and I was just trying to play football. I tried to lead with my shoulder.”

Gronk was slow to rise and when he did, he was unsteady. Teammate Chris Hogan kept Gronk steady until he got some assistance to the sideline. From there, we was squired to the locker room and into the concussion protocol. He didn’t return.

The hit, the flag and the fact the Patriots would soon score a touchdown to chew into the Jaguars lead caused the inevitable discussion of what Chruch was supposed to do on that play.

Church had the same debate himself.

“It’s tough, that guy s humongous,” said Church. “If you wait for him to catch it and bring it down, he might run you over. You have to go with it and try and hit him in the right target zone but, going 100 MPH, that is nearly impossible.”

Gronk wasn’t spotted in the locker room after the game. He’ll have checkpoints to pass before he’s cleared to play in Super Bowl 52. 

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Dolphins anthem punishment would include suspensions

Dolphins anthem punishment would include suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.

The “Proper Anthem Conduct” section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the policy who insisted on anonymity because the document is not public. It classifies anthem protests under a large list of “conduct detrimental to the club,” all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine or both.

Miami’s anthem policy comes after the NFL decided in May that teams would be fined if players didn’t stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” while on the field. The league left it up to teams on how to punish players. None of the team policies have been made public.

The NFL rule forbids players from sitting or taking a knee if they are on the field or sidelines during the national anthem, but allows them to stay in the locker room if they wish. The new league rules were challenged this month in a grievance by the players union.

Patriots safety Devin McCourty was among several NFL players who criticized the new policy when it was revealed in May. 

The NFL declined to comment. Team officials had no immediate comment.
 

© 2018 by The Associated Press

Nick Foles beats Tom Brady again - in jersey sales

Nick Foles beats Tom Brady again - in jersey sales

Nick Foles is likely headed back to the bench to back up Carson Wentz after leading the Philadelphia Eagles past the Patriots for their first Super Bowl title. 

But the backup QB is still No. 1 in jersey and other officially licensed merchandise sales - beating out the same QB he topped in Super Bowl 52 - according to figures released by the NFL Players Association.

For the period from March 1 to May 31, it's Foles' No. 9 at No. 1 over Tom Brady's No. 12, with Wentz's No. 11, who was injured late last season before Foles took over the starting job, coming in third. At fourth is a player who has yet to take a snap yet for his team, No. 2 overall pick Saquan Barkley, the running back from Penn State who'll wear No. 26 for the New York Giants. 

Brady's former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, now wearing No. 10 for the San Francisco 49ers, checks in at eighth.

Here's the Top 10:
1. Nick Foles, Eagles QB No. 9
2. Tom Brady, Patriots QB No. 12
3. Carson Wentz, Eagles QB No. 11
4. Saquon Barkley, Giants RB No. 26
5. Dak Prescott, Cowboys QB No. 4
6. Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB No. 12
7. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys RB No. 21
8. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QB No. 10
9. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants WR No. 13
10. Derek Carr, Raiders QB No. 4

Other Patriots in the Top 50: Tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose No. 87 gear is 24th and at 32nd, it's wide receiver Julian Edelman, who wears No. 11. 

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