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Thursday Patriots Notebook 3/29: Patriots Acting “As If” on Gronk – Kickoffs Going Away?

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
6 years ago at 9:29 am ET

Thursday Patriots Notebook 3/29: Patriots Acting “As If” on Gronk – Kickoffs Going Away?usa today - USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories.

Patriots Operating “As If” On Gronk – While Rob Gronkowski hasn’t confirmed he’ll be on the field with the Patriots in 2018, the team appears to be conducting business as if he will be.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald pointed out that the team wasn’t in on anyone at the tight end position during free agency, not getting into the mix on the likes of Jimmy Graham, Tyler Effort, which were two of the biggest names who hit the market.  They also reportedly didn’t try and bring back Clay Harbor after he left Philadelphia (Harbor was with the Patriots at the beginning of 2016 before being released in October) and released Martellus Bennett.  That leaves them with just Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister if Gronk was to walk away.

From Howe:

Sure, the Patriots could draft a tight end, but Belichick rarely puts himself in a position before the draft where he’s got to force it with one position. Plus, it’s dangerous to rely on a rookie tight end to carry the load.

Since Gronkowski entered the league in 2010, only three rookie tight ends surpassed 50 receptions, and Evan Engram has been the only one to have at least 600 yards. The Patriots might not necessarily need a rookie tight end to post significant numbers if Gronk happened to retire because they’re loaded with quality receivers and pass-catching backs, but there’s no denying their offense has looked off over the years when Gronkowski was injured and they didn’t have a suitable fill-in.

This isn’t to dismiss the legitimacy of Gronk’s retirement thoughts, but there are two pieces in this equation. In the NFL, where secrecy is practically the lifeblood of every organization, it’s always important to judge teams by their actions. And the Patriots have given off the appearance that they’re acting as though Gronk will be on the field next season.

Whether or not Gronkowski ends up on the field this season remains to be seen but it’s hard not to agree with Howe that the signs are there that the Patriots seem to believe he’ll be back.  Robert Kraft told reporters recently that Gronkowksi has been seen working out at the stadium, which is certainly a positive sign for those hoping that we’ll get to see more Gronk spikes in 2018.

Gronk Appearing in a Mel Gibson Film? – Even if Gronkowski is preparing to play out another NFL season, that isn’t stopping him from continuing to explore his acting future and it appears he’s already landed a gig.

According to Jeff Sneider of The Tracking Board, the veteran tight end will reportedly be appearing in an action movie called “Boss Level”, which stars Frank Grillo and Mel Gibson and will be directed by Joe Carnahan.

Carnahan is directing from a script written by the Borey Brothers, and the film co-stars Naomi Watts, Annabelle Wallis and Will Sasso.

Grillo will play a retired special forces veteran who becomes trapped in a never-ending loop that results in his death every day.

Gronkowski’s role is being kept under wraps, but you can safely expect him throw a punch or two. Let’s just hope he takes off his Super Bowl rings first.

Gronkowski has previously appeared in the “Entourage” film along with “The Clapper” and has also appeared in “Family Guy”.  He currently has a total of 12 acting credits on his IMDB page.

It should be interesting to see how he does, although it’s safe to say that most fans are hoping he’ll be on the gridiron for a bit longer.

Belichick was against the proposed “Josh McDaniels Rule” at the league meetings. (USA TODAY Images)

Belichick Against “Josh McDaniels” Rule – There’s been plenty of discussions about the “Josh McDaniels rule” change that was being proposed, but it reportedly ended up being tabled on Tuesday at the league meetings.

According to, Belichick was among those against the rule change and made an “impassioned” plea during the discussions, making the case that allowing an assistant to sign a contract during a playoff run went too far.

Meanwhile, the Colts seem to have moved on and even agreed that the rule might not be the best idea.  According to Colts GM Chris Ballard, he believes the concept of working for two teams in that situation isn’t good, since disrupting the team they’re working with doesn’t make sense.

“I just think we’re opening a little bit of a Pandora’s box if we force and ask coaches to be under contract to two different teams,’’  said Ballard. “That’s an issue. You don’t want to disrupt the team your coach is coming from. You want to be respectful to that team. But now that coach has to go back into work knowing that he signed a contract elsewhere? I just don’t like it. One of the things we lack in our hiring practice is patience, and it doesn’t usually work well to get things done in a rush.’’

One strange turn of events, in Detroit, the Lions – despite getting exactly what they wanted by landing Matt Patricia, who was coaching the Patriots defense during the playoffs in January – want the rule changed.  Go figure.

For Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater, their first opportunities came on special teams. (USA TODAY Images)

Kickoffs on the way out? – For anyone out there who is a fan of kickoffs, it sounds like the NFL may finally be on the verge of eliminating them moving forward.

According to, despite the change that moved touchbacks to the 25-yard line (which has cut down on the number of returns), it still reportedly hasn’t cut down on the likelihood of players suffering concussions on the play.

The worst part, according to Packers president Mark Murphy, is that concussions are even happening when kicks aren’t returned, which is now helping to further make the league seriously think about removing them.

“The other thing that’s kind of frustrating,” Murphy said, “is there were concussions on touchbacks. So even though there’s no return, [the committee is] looking at what kind of things you can do to make sure people were aware that there’s not even a return. You see this, too: One player lets up, the player covering lets up, and one of the blockers comes over and, you know. That creates problems when you’ve got one player going half-speed and the other one full speed.”

With the goal of making the game safer, it may negate one of the parts of the game that has paved the way for longshots to earn a roster spot while eventually making it a possibility that we’ll miss out on players like Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman.  As a result, there’s a little more at stake than just placing the ball at the 25-yard line vs keeping the return game.  It would be disappointing to take those opportunities away from players like that to earn a spot, but it looks like that may be coming in the not too distant future.

Bennett Checks in With Gronk, Edelman – It’s always fun to see players interact with eachother online, especially when it comes to random conversations that just start to become a little humorous the longer they unfold.

Bennett was seemingly at a book store recently and spotted Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski’s books and reached out to both players. If you follow the string of tweets, it’s relatively funny, especially when as fans point out, they could have had a phone conversation privately but instead opted to do it via Twitter. Good stuff.

Bennett starts it off, but click here and you’ll be able to read the entire conversation, which eventually leads one fan to ask, “Un, just wondering…don’t ya all have each other’s #??”

Posted Under: Daily Patriots Notebook

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