Patriots’ Gronkowski Fired Up to Face Jaguars
FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski didn’t back down from Jalen Ramsey. But he didn’t exactly pour gasoline on the fire either with respect to his mini-war with the Jaguars cornerback, who recently dissed Gronk and his abilities as a tight end.
Just a few days away from their Sunday showdown, Gronkowski was pretty shrewd in how he dealt with the Ramsey questions Wednesday during his media session. Most important, he plans on having his wits about him when he deals with the Jaguars, and not letting his emotions get the best of him when the two combatants from last season’s AFC title game meet at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
But he also didn’t lie. He admitted he’s going to have a little extra juice thanks to Ramsey’s claims that he’s “overrated.”
Who wouldn’t be a little pumped to prove a doubter wrong?
Gronkowski, who has given in to a bit of overzealousness at times, vows he won’t be baited into any unnecessary penalties or hurt his team trying to even the score.
“There can always be talking going back and forth, tempers getting heated up,” Gronkowski said when asked if he thought he had to guard against being baited into penalties in this particular game. “You’ve just gotta keep your cool. I don’t see any benefit to get a 15-yard penalty on the field because you lose your cool. So just gotta keep cool, and keep your head on a string.”
Gronkowski actually acknowledged having known some players on his own team who were good at provoking penalties.
“I’ve had players on my team before where they just get into people’s heads. And they react, and they get 15-yard penalties,” said Gronk. “So you just gotta keep your head straight, keep your cool and just play ball.”
Interestingly, Gronk didn’t agree, or disagree with Ramsey’s claims. He just let him have his say.
That’s probably because he would show him how he really felt on Sunday. That’s what Patriots do. That’s how they respond.
“If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels,” Gronkowski said, when asked specifically about Ramsey’s remarks. “It’s a big game this Sunday, we’re playing them. I’m sure I’m going to have opportunities to go versus him. I’m sure he’s going to have opportunities to go versus me. I’m just preparing like I always prepare. I just gotta do my job out on the field and just worry about that.”
Once again, a smart way for Gronk to handle and approach a tricky question. And, he knew reporters were hoping he’d dump all over Ramsey and provide bulletin board material for the Jaguars. But he wouldn’t cross the line.
He just danced on the line when asked if Ramsey’s put-down motivated him.
“Sure. There’s always motivation you’re looking for,” said Gronkowski. “That’s a trick question. You’re trying to get me to say something. It does and it doesn’t, you know what I mean? It motivates you, hearing that. Obviously, there’s something out there he saw on film and stuff that I can probably get better at football in certain categories. You don’t always feel the best every single day when you’re out on the field. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”
Gronkowski is expecting anything and everything in this game. He knows the Jaguars, 24-20 losers in that AFC title game, will be looking for some payback.
The Patriots tight end had to leave right before the half, suffering a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit from safety Barry Church, as he was attempting to catch a pass on a seam route.
It’s possible the Jaguars might match their best corner (Ramsey) on the Patriots best offensive player (Gronkowski), which would really make it interesting.
One of Ramsey’s points was that when Gronkowski faces an elite corner, his catch percentage goes down from 71 percent to 56 percent. Asked if he thought about those numbers, Gronk provided another classic answer.
“That’s some good percentages still. I mean, I don’t really go into statistics like that,” he said. “I’ve just got to play ball. That’s basically all. I’ve got to come out and play ball.”
Asked if he had a preference who covered him, Gronkowski cracked: “D-lineman.”
Did Tom Brady’s favorite target remember the first time he engaged in trash-talking with someone?
“Oh, I got it all the time when I was younger. It’s just part of the game. It’s part of being an athlete,” he said. “There’s opportunities you can take in it and take advantage of it and there’s other times where if you take it the wrong way, you can lose your cool and it can go the opposite way and hurt your team. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve got to do and keep doing my job.”
If Gronkowski lives by his words, the Patriots should be in business Sunday.