Guest of the League
Aurelio Sanchez Memorial League Est. 2007
FFL: Week 3 | NFL: Week 3

Patriots adjust to life without Gronk

Wed Jul 24 6:42pm ET
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer

Players: Matt Slater, Benjamin Watson, Rob Gronkowski, James White, Matt LaCosse

New England Patriots football head coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football head coach Bill Belichick adjusts the microphones before speaking to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football free safety Devin McCourty listens to a question during a news conference, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football special teamer Matthew Slater speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football running back James White speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


New England Patriots football running back James White speaks to the media, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in advance of Thursday's opening of the Patriots NFL training camp. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are back at work, and things are already a lot quieter.

Rob Gronkowski has retired, and the locker room is a more serious place without the fun-loving tight end who once declared himself the life of the party - in garbled Spanish, no less.

''There's only one Gronk,'' running back James White said on Wednesday, when the Patriots reported for training camp. ''You can't replace that personality. He's a great football player, but you've got to play with who's out here.''

A four-time All-Pro who was too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for defensive backs to bring down, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in an injury-plagued nine-year career. He helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl five times, winning three rings.

But he was also a larger-than-life personality known for emphatically spiking the ball after a touchdown catch; he once tried to do the same with an opponent, explaining after drawing a penalty ''I took him and threw him out of the club.''

Gronk's offseason partying - thrice starting with the Super Bowl post-game events - was a staple of social media, and he once announced in the locker room after a win: ''Yo soy Fiesta!''

''Rob was one-of-a-kind, obviously, on the field, with what he's able to do as a player. We see that each and every week over the last nine years,'' special teams captain Matthew Slater said.

''His fun-loving spirit and personality, and his child-like joy that he brought each and every day to the workplace. His humility - just a genuine human being - certainly, those things are hard to come by in today's time, so we'll miss that.''

But Gronkowski last played a full, 16-game season in 2011, with injuries to his back, knee, ankle and arm limiting his ability to stay on the field. He hinted at retirement after the 2017 season, and then made it official this March - a few months shy of his 30th birthday - saying on Instagram ''it's time to move forward and move forward with a big smile.''

''That's the thing in football - the one thing that's consistent is change,'' defensive back Devin McCourty said. ''He looks like he's having an awesome time on Instagram. I'm really happy for him being able to have a great career and leave the game on your own terms. We'll see how it works out for us.''

A second-round draft pick in 2010, Gronkowski caught just 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns last season. (He added six catches for 87 yards in the 13-3 Super Bowl victory over the Rams, including two receptions on New England's only touchdown drive.)

His 12 career playoff touchdown receptions and 81 postseason catches are the most by a tight end in NFL history. His 79 career TD catches are third most for a tight end.

Without him, the Patriots have brought in Matt LaCosse from the Denver Broncos as well as Benjamin Watson, who started his career in New England in 2004 before bouncing around the league. (Watson will miss the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.)

But there's also a lingering doubt that Gronkowski is gone for good.

''He'll do what's best for him, but anybody that comes in this locker room is always welcomed with open arms,'' McCourty said, throwing in a dig at his twin brother, Jason. ''We accept all guys. We took my brother in last year. He struggled for nine years in the NFL, so you talk about a guy like Gronk coming back, I think that'll be a lot easier.''

Devin McCourty had also gone into the offseason unsure if he would return.

''I'm still here, huh,'' he said on Wednesday. ''The fun hasn't stopped so I won't stop either.''

Player Notes
Darius Leonard Sep 27 11:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard posted a total of 11 stops with a tackle for loss and a pass defensed in Week 3 against the New York Jets.

From TheHuddle

Travis Carrie Sep 27 11:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts CB T.J. Carrie finished with four tackles, a pass defensed and a 47-yard interception return for touchdown in Week 3 against the New York Jets.

From TheHuddle

Xavier Rhodes Sep 27 11:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts CB Xavier Rhodes finished with a solo tackle, two passes defensed and a 44-yard interception return for touchdown in Week 3 against the New York Jets.

From TheHuddle

Justin Houston Sep 27 11:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts DE Justin Houston finished with a solo tackle, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a safety in Week 3 against the New York Jets.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin Sep 27 11:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) caught five of his six targets for 64 yards and a touchdown before exiting with a hamstring injury in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: A week after being sidelined with a concussion, Godwin now has another injury to deal with. If he misses more time going forward, Scott Miller could vault into flex territory.

From TheHuddle

Mike Evans Sep 27 11:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans caught a pair of one-yard touchdowns in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: It has been a strange season for Evans, who has sandwiched a pair of two-yard performances between a 100-yard game. He has scored in all three games, but Evans will need to see an increase in volume if he is going to finish as a WR1.

From TheHuddle

Braxton Berrios Sep 27 11:33pm ET

New York Jets WR Braxton Berrios registered four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown on his six targets in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Fantasy Spin: Berrios helped pick up some of the slack with Jamison Crowder inactive due to an injury. That's two games and two scores for Berrios, who is likely to be a hot add off the waiver wire this season. He is worth grabbing as a WR5 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams.

From TheHuddle

Christopher Herndon IV Sep 27 11:33pm ET

New York Jets TE Chris Herndon posted three catches for 21 yards on five targets in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Fantasy Spin: Herndon opened with six grabs in Week 1, but he has managed just four catches for 26 yards on nine targets in his past two outings. That type of production isn't good for anyone in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

Bradley McDougald Sep 27 11:33pm ET

New York Jets S Bradley McDougald registered 10 total stops with five solo tackles in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.

From TheHuddle

Sam Darnold Sep 27 11:23pm ET

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold completed 17-of-29 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. He also ran five times for 20 yards.

Fantasy Spin: Darnold was without Jamison Crowder, and he was also without Le'Veon Bell for the second straight game. It didn't help not having two of his best offensive weapons, but he simply made too many mistakes. The Jets have a quick turnaround, facing the Denver Broncos on Thursday in Week 4. Darnold cannot be trusted for fantasy purposes.

From TheHuddle

Frank Gore Sep 27 11:23pm ET

New York Jets RB Frank Gore ran 15 times for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts and he added one reception for five yards on his only target.

Fantasy Spin: Gore has been picking up the slack with Le'Veon Bell inactive for a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. While Gore is getting a majority of the backfield touches ahead of La'Mical Perine and Kalen Ballage, it might only be a matter of time before Adam Gase elects to try the younger players. Fantasy buyer beware.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Sep 27 11:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones rushed 13 times for 53 yards and caught two of his four targets for 20 yards in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: While it wasn't an overwhelming stat line, but after Leonard Fournette had a big Week 2, Jones resumed the lead role, leading all backs in carries and touches. The chances of Jones breaking into the RB2 ranks this year seem slim, but he should have value as a flex option.

From TheHuddle

Dallas Goedert Sep 27 11:13pm ET

Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) is expected to miss some time after leaving the Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals due to an ankle injury. He will have an MRI Monday, Sept. 28.

Fantasy Spin: With Goedert likely to miss time, Zach Ertz will once again suck up all of the tight end targets, and might re-emerge as a bona fide TE1 in fantasy after having to share the wealth in the first three games this season.

From TheHuddle

Tom Brady Sep 27 11:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady completed 25 of his 38 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: Brady had his best performance as a Buccaneer, but until he strings together a few strong outings, the veteran should still be treated as a matchup-based streaming option.

From TheHuddle

Mike Williams Sep 27 11:03pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers and he was unable to return.

Fantasy Spin: That explains his lack of usage in the home loss to the Panthers. He managed just one catch for 17 yards on one target We'll know more about his status for Week 4 once practice resumes on Wednesday.

From TheHuddle

Donte Jackson Sep 27 11:03pm ET

Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson (toe) left the Week 3 game against the Los Angeles Chargers due to a toe injury.

From TheHuddle

Jared Cook Sep 27 10:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook (ankle) left the Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers. He headed for the medical tent initially, then was taken to the locker room.

Fantasy Spin: If Cook is unable to return, it will be Josh Hill likely handling Cook's workload. We'll update his injury status as soon as possible.

From TheHuddle

Carolina Panthers Sep 27 10:50pm ET

The Carolina Panthers Defense capitalized in Week 3 against a team starting a rookie quarterback on the Chargers. Carolina notched two sacks, eight quarterback hits, one pick, and three fumble recoveries. While this was an encouraging performance for a team that gave up over 30 points in the first two games, this type of performance should not be expected each week. The Panthers' defense is still a very young and inexperienced unit, and they face a tough test in a rising Cardinals team next week.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Sep 27 10:43pm ET

Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen caught three of his five targets for 29 yards and a touchdown in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: The touchdown salvaged an otherwise quiet afternoon, and since a monster performance in Week 1, Thielen has just six catches for 60 yards in the last two games. He still has WR2 upside, but with Kirk Cousins struggling, boom-or-bust production could become the norm.

From TheHuddle

Kyle Rudolph Sep 27 10:43pm ET

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph caught two of his three targets for 11 yards and a touchdown in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.

Fantasy Spin: It has been a quiet season for Rudolph, and he is sitting on four catches for 39 yards and a score after three games. He is a touchdown-dependent TE2.

From TheHuddle