Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski led his team with six catches last Sunday in their 34-13 win over the Titans.
That was last week…the Cardinals are now on Gronkowski’s mind, as the Patriots prepare to host Arizona on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
“They [Cardinals] are a very good team, and we just have to put in one practice at a time starting today,” Gronkowski said.
Gronkowski knows he and his teammates, especially those on offense, will have to put in some extra work on the practice field this week, in order to get ready for what the Cardinals defense will throw at them.
“They are pretty solid,” Gronkowski said. “They have a lot of great players at a lot of positions, so [a] very good defense.”
The Cardinals defense brought Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson down three times last Sunday, something that wasn’t easy to do considering how elusive he was both inside and outside of the pocket.
Gronkowski is well aware of the challenges that the Patriots will face from the defensive pass rush of the Cardinals.
“They’re big, they’re fast and they know how to create matches where we have to be thinking,” Gronkowski said. “You just have to be aware at all times because it’s not just pressure coming, it’s good players coming that know how to pass rush.”
The 2011 season was Gronkowski’s sophomore season, and it was a breakout season for him no doubt, as he caught 90 balls for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Gronkowski continued his great play in the playoffs, with 10 catches, 145 yards and three touchdowns against the Broncos.
The rest of the run to Indianapolis wasn’t as good for Gronkowski, as he injured his ankle against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, which required him to have surgery, which he says didn’t limit him against the Giants in the Super Bowl, but you could tell he wasn’t the same.
Injuries like that, especially to a vital cog in the offense like Gronkowski is for New England, shows how valuable he was, and is to their offensive success.
Gronkowski believes that the tight end position is evolving within the league, where it’s becoming a more and more invaluable roster spot.
“I feel like, absolutely, tight ends are more of athletes now,” Gronkowski said. “They can go out, run, and catch a ball and everything.”
Back to the Patriots’ offense versus the Cardinals’ defense…
…Gronkowski and the Patriots are very familiar with the Steelers, considering how many times they’ve played them over the years.
Gronkowski can see some similarities between the Cardinals and Steelers defenses, considering defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s roots are based in Pittsburgh, and with Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
“They kind of have a defense a little bit like that, and we have to be ready because they are both good defenses.”