New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski told The Boston Herald on Sept. 25 he's ready to take on more responsibility after a 2013 season which saw him undergo forearm and back surgeries.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is ready to have his workload increased.
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Gronkowski, who is coming off foreram and back surgeries last season, made the declaration to The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe on Sept. 25:
"Tight end Rob Gronkowski wants to crank up the workload.
"He has played in 48.2 percent of the offensive snaps this season and finally cracked the 50 percent threshold against the Raiders by playing 44-of-75 snaps.
"'I've been in about three games deep now,' Gronkowski said. 'So basically, it's just progressing every week but it's getting to the point where we can start rolling more and more.'
"Gronkowski said he '(doesn't) feel limited at all' and is ready for more responsibility. During the past two weeks, the Patriots have given him an apparent first-half pitch count to save him for the second half. Maybe it's time to relax the restrictions.
"'Obviously, I'm a football player,' Gronkowski said. 'I don't want to go out to the game and be limited, so I always want to play as much as I can because I like being out there.
"'So it's up to the coaches and when my number is called, I'm going to go out there.'"
For his part, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said the team is trying to ease Gronkowski into the flow of the offense as each week passes, per a Sept. 23 update by ESPN Boston's Lee Schechter:
"Rob Gronkowski still doesn't look like the offensive force we have seen in the past, but New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels thinks the tight end is getting there and will continue to see his workload increase as the season progresses.
"'I definitely think that Rob has made some plays for us. I certainly think that will continue and hope that will continue,' McDaniels said. 'We aret trying to work him back into the game plan to an overall level where he can contribute the most.
"'And I think each week we have done a little bit more, and hopefully we can continue to do that. I think that any time you are talking about a player who is coming off a situation like Gronk was, you have to be smart and do what you can do. I'm happy with the things that he has done so far, and we will continue to add more as we go through the year.'
"Gronkowski played 38 of 86 snaps against (the) Miami (Dolpins), 28 of 67 against (the) Minnesota (Vikings) (a drop likely due to the use of extra offensive lineman Cameron Fleming at tight end) and 42 of 73 snaps against Oakland. The increased workload against the (Oakland) Raiders is a good sign that Gronkowski is inching closer toward being a steady contributor to the offense.
"It goes without question that the Patriots need Gronkowski, especially in the red zone. As wide receiver Julian Edelman continues to be the focal point of the Patriots' passing game, Gronkowski's re-emergence will need to come sooner than later. That said, McDaniels doesn't want to rush Gronkowski back to full action, as he reminded media that Gronkowski is coming off of a serious knee injury.
"'Like I said, you are mindful of anybody who has missed -- whether it is a specific portion of camp or whatever it is -- how you integrate those players back in,' McDaniels said. 'And hopefully that is what we are doing and try to get him to do that each week.'
"A moment that stood out in Gronkowski's progression was a 16-yard catch in the second quarter Sunday to set up the team in the red zone. Gronkowski lowered the pads and dragged four Raiders defenders -- basically, Gronk being Gronk.
"The Patriots will need more of that because they need versatility in the passing game. McDaniels said the increase is coming."
The 25-year-old Gronkowski has caught for 3,371 yards and 44 touchdowns on 237 receptions in 53 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.
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