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TE Rob Gronkowski - New England Patriots

6-6, 264Born: 5-14-1989College: ArizonaDrafted: Round 2

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Week 20: vs Pittsburgh Steelers

All TE vs PIT

Mark and Joe say: Tough matchup. New England defeated the Steelers 27-16 at Heinz Field back on October 23rd, 2016. However, in that game Ben Roethlisberger sat out due to his torn knee meniscus cartilage that had been surgically repaired just prior to the Week Seven game. Tom Brady threw 19/26 for 222 yards, two TDs and threw zero interceptions while taking zero sacks during the contest. However, his lead receiver that day, Rob Gronkowski (four targets for 4/93/1 receiving) is now on I.R. (Julian Edelman was second in receiving at Pittsburgh with 10 targets for 9/60/0 receiving). Brady threw 18/38 for 287 yards, two TDs and two interceptions vs. Houston last week, looking a little out-of-synch with his receivers due to heavy pass pressure (two sacks for -8 yards and several other hits/pressures). He did find his running backs for two short TD passes (seven targets for 2/23/1 receiving to Dion Lewis; one for 1/19/1 to James White). Edelman (13 targets for 8/137/0 receiving) was the main receiver last weekend, as per usual. Two games ago Brady blew up the Dolphins in the regular season finale, throwing 25/33 for 276 yards passing, three TDs and zero interceptions with zero sacks taken before Jimmy Garoppolo cleaned up the 35-14 shellacking. Edelman (13 targets for 8/151/1 receiving), Michael Floyd (four for 3/36/1) and Martellus Bennett (five for 3/33/1) all hauled in scores during the rout. Wide receiver Chris Hogan said on Tuesday, January 17 that he feels good after exiting the game early with a thigh injury against the Houston Texans last weekend. '[I] just had a little minor setback in the game,' Hogan said. 'I'm working back every single day and feeling better every day.' Stay tuned to Footballguys.com's Players in the News as the weekend approaches to see if Hogan can practice/get in the mix for the Patriots this weekend. Also, receiver Malcolm Mitchell (knee injury) appears to have a solid chance to play in the AFC Championship game, according to a source - the Patriots may have a plethora of targets available for Brady against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh kept Alex Smith and company bottled up for most of the game at Kansas City, allowing just 20/34 for 166 net yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown (with one sack for -6 yards generated). Even so, they needed a holding call on a two-point conversion try to fend off the Chiefs 18-16, but when the final gun went off it was Pittsburgh with a sloppy 'W' (the Steelers kicked six field goals last weekend, never finding the end zone in 60 minutes of play). Pittsburgh beat up Dolphins' backup Matt Moore in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, sacking him five times for -36 yards while allowing 29/36 for 253 net yards passing, one TD and one interception thrown. From Week 15-17 of regular season (the last three weeks, with no teams on bye), Pittsburgh has averaged 17 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (10th-least in the NFL); and 17 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (tied for seventh-least); with 9.1 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (13th-most). During regular season the Steelers averaged 242.6 net passing yards allowed per game (16th in the NFL) with 20 passing scores given out vs. 13 interceptions and 38 sacks generated (tied for 15th in the NFL and tied for ninth-ranked, respectively). In the post-season, the team has averaged 209.5 net passing yards allowed per game, a significant improvement over their regular season average. Pittsburgh's pass rush could pressure Brady in this game - it looks like a tough matchup is in store for the Patriots' offense in this game.

Recent Game Summaries

2016 Week 12 vs NYJ (2 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

Gronk's day consisted of two deep shots, then he was quickly removed for the rest of the game with a back injury. This is clearly something that bares monitoring, as it has a ripple effect on the entire offense. Gronk was seen on the sidelines at portions of the game, hopefully indicating the injury isn't severe.

2016 Week 10 vs SEA (6 / 3 / 56 / 0 rec)

It was a fairly quiet day for Gronk, who took a couple big hits from defenders in the process. Gronk actually finished with his lowest target count since Tom Brady's return, thanks in part to steady coverage and a Seahawks defense that didn't let routes develop for much of the game. On a 4th and goal play, a defender definitely made contact with Gronk and the refs didn't call it, and that was probably the highlight of the big tight end's night, as the game ended thereafter.

2016 Week 8 vs BUF (7 / 5 / 109 / 1 rec)

Once again, Gronk led the way for receiving on the day, beasting his way to 109 yards. He had a 33 yard catch that had a signature Gronk moment, dragging defenders draped all over him for several yards. He also had a long 53 yard touchdown, outrunning a cornerback in a display of true athleticism. As usual, Gronk blocked well, and also set the record for all-time Patriots receiving touchdowns in his 7th season. Not too shabby.

2016 Week 7 vs PIT (4 / 4 / 93 / 1 rec)

Continuing the "he's back" theme, Gronk's highlight play was a long seam touchdown that had him beat his covering cornerback and a safety over the top. Gronk simply outran the CB, no small task, and showing his versatility, the play came from the left slot. Gronk also had a couple more chunk gains, but his reception total was lower due to the run-heavy gameplan from the Patriots.

2016 Week 6 vs CIN (9 / 7 / 162 / 1 rec)

Gronk is back, and he destroyed the Bengals for a career high in yardage to make his statement. Running free all day and whipping Bengals defenders left and right, Gronk caught chunk gain after chunk gain, and got his Gronk spike in to cap it all off. The touchdown was a short curl route with perfect ball placement by Tom Brady, allowing Gronk to go low to catch it with his hands. Gronk was also involved in a couple scuffles, as he chewed out Vontaze Burfict after Burfict's extremely dirty low cheap shot on Martellus Bennett. Regardless, Gronk looks good to go going forward, and will be a choice target for Tom Brady as usual.

2016 Week 5 vs CLE (7 / 5 / 109 / 0 rec)

After murmurs and whispers that Gronk's injury was worse than he was letting on, the big tight end came out and showed that he's just fine. Gronk caught multiple chunk gains, and though he didn't score, he rumbled his way to over 100 yards. As usual, he was tough to bring down, though he didn't blow by anyone or drag multiple defenders on a play like we're accustomed to seeing. Gronk will be back as the top tight end starting next week.

2016 Week 4 vs BUF (2 / 1 / 11 / 0 rec)

Gronk played more snaps on the day than weeks prior, but only hauled in one catch. He was in on many blocking plays, a sign he may be getting his legs under him. He should be good to go with Tom Brady returning barring a setback.

2016 Week 3 vs HOU (1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

Gronk was on a clear snap count, only playing a handful of snaps. He blocked on all but one of them, and his lone target was a high overthrow in the end one. With 10 days til his next game, he should be more involved against the Bills.

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