2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots TEs could be double trouble for Texans

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-10 18:44

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots didn't need Rob Gronkowski when they dominated the Houston Texans last month.

Now he's back.

And that gives the Texans, 42-14 losers on Dec. 10, a tougher challenge in Sunday's rematch in a divisional playoff game.

``Obviously, he's a great player,'' Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker said Thursday. ``So any time you can throw him in there, it's a good thing.''

It's even better when Gronkowski is out there with their other star tight end, Aaron Hernandez.

But they played together in just five games this season. Hernandez missed six of the first 10 with a sprained right ankle. Then Gronkowski sat out the next five with a broken left forearm before returning for limited action in the regular-season finale, a 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in which he caught just two passes, one for a 23-yard touchdown.

In their previous two NFL regular seasons, Gronkowski played in all 32 games, Hernandez in 28. They combined for 87 catches in 2010 and 169 in 2011. They were productive when healthy this season with Gronkowski catching 55 passes with 11 touchdowns and Hernandez grabbing 51 with five scores.

``Two's always better than one,'' special teams captain and wide receiver Matthew Slater said.

But to Tom Brady, just having them on the field doesn't mean anything. They need to produce.

``It's a matter of execution more than anything,'' the Patriots quarterback said. ``Just because (Gronkowski) may have the opportunity to be out there on a particular play doesn't matter if we don't execute it well.''

Gronkowski was protecting his left arm when he faced Miami, trying to keep it away from contact. The importance of his health was evident last year when his playing status was listed as questionable for the Super Bowl just 48 hours before the game.

He had suffered a high-ankle sprain two weeks earlier in the Patriots' 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. That hampered him in the Super Bowl

He had just two catches for 26 yards after a season in which he had 105 receptions, 15 of them in the other two postseason games.

On the last play of the 21-17 loss to the New York Giants, Brady made one desperation heave for the championship, a long pass to the right side of the end zone on the last play. Hernandez and three Giants went up for the ball, Gronkowski lunged for it as it was heading for the ground, and it fell incomplete.

After the season, Gronkowski had arthroscopic surgery on the ankle. Then he broke his forearm while blocking on an extra point in a 59-24 win over the Colts. He still may not be completely healthy, but Gronkowski is ready for whatever he's asked to do.

``I'll give the coaches a great look of what I can do (in practice) so they're prepared for the game and what to call,'' he said. ``So whatever the coaches have in mind, I've just got to perform the best I can.''

The better he and Hernandez do that, the more coverage they're likely to draw. And that would give wide receivers Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch more room to operate.

``The more weapons you have, the more guys have to pay attention to those guys,'' Welker said. ``Obviously, Aaron and Gronk are definitely guys you have to pay attention to.''

The double threat they pose, though, is no guarantee of success. In their five games together, the Patriots are just 3-2.

Gronkowski caught five touchdown passes in dominating wins over the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts in which Hernandez was sidelined. Hernandez caught two scoring passes in the last month's rout of the Texans.

On Sunday, as a 9 1/2-point underdog, Houston will face Gronkowski for the first time in his pro career.

``He's exceptional,'' Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. ``If the ball is close to him, he's going to catch it. The thing about him, people play him with corners on him. They play him with (line)backers on him. They play him with safeties. His size is just such that it's just hard. You get in there and bang with him, you're going to lose that battle. Obviously, we didn't see him the first time around so it'll be different for us, but a big, big challenge for us.''

Last year, Gronkowski set a single-season record for tight ends with 17 touchdowns. This year, he might have broken that had he not been injured.

On Sunday, after a bye that gave his forearm extra time to heal, he could be as dangerous as ever.

``I'm always eager,'' he said. ``Who wouldn't be? It's football. You want to go out there and give your best.''

Combine his strength with Hernandez's elusiveness - and their excellent hands and route-running to boot - and the Patriots should be better equipped against a Texans team determined to make up for their recent flop on the same field.

``They have good players, too,'' Slater said. ``We're very fortunate to have two young men as talented as they are on our team. We're going to need it come Sunday. All hands on deck.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dane FletcherMay 27 02:33a

Free-agent LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) has returned to the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

Devonta FreemanMay 26 09:53p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman worked with the first-team offense during organized team activities Tuesday, May 26.

Charles SimsMay 26 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims has a solid chance of beating out RB Doug Martin for Tampa Bay's starting running back gig, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

A.J. JenkinsMay 26 01:02p

Free-agent WR A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, May 26, according to a source. Jenkins was the 30th overall pick by the San [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 26 08:43a

Updating an ongoing story, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the idea of trading for Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, despite persistent rumors, according to The Dallas Morning [ More ]

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group