Gronkowski brothers make for a tight-knit group
FOXBOROUGH - Tom Brady joked that tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Dan Gronkowski were probably putting each other in headlocks in the locker room Tuesday.
It wasn’t hard to imagine.
Rob is lighthearted and rarely seen without a grin. The day he was drafted by the Patriots in 2010, he was shown celebrating in a team huddle with his family. Now his older brother is a member of the Patriots.
“You get excited definitely because he’s a family member and you’re grateful to have your brothers in the league, but when it comes down to it, you get a brother on the same team. That’s awesome,’’ Rob Gronkowski said. “It’s already a dream come true to have him in the NFL at the same time, but to have him on your team is awesome. To have someone there is a lot more support, more intensity we can bring out in each other because we know each other like that, so it’s going to be fun.’’
The Patriots officially signed Dan Gronkowski yesterday after the 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pounder was cut by the Broncos Saturday. The Lions drafted Dan, 26, out of Maryland in the seventh round in 2009. He was traded to Denver last September and played in 14 games, collecting eight receptions for 65 yards.
Former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the coach of the Broncos last season, giving Dan some experience in a system that may make his transition to the Patriots easier, coach Bill Belichick said.
“Dan has done a good job in Detroit and last year out in Denver in Josh’s offense,’’ Belichick said. “So it’s easy to see him doing some of the things that are similar to what we do. He’s also had some playing time in the kicking game so hopefully he can help us there too.’’
Belichick expects tight end meetings to be more entertaining.
“There will probably be a little more conversation now,’’ Belichick said. “Hopefully we can keep it on football.’’
Dan will wear No. 82 and is a couple of lockers down from his brother and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Having another Gronkowski on the roster made Brady chuckle.
“[Dan] seems like he’s excited to be here,’’ Brady said. “I think the two brothers were giving each other headlocks in the locker room [Tuesday], and they’re excited. He seems to be a nice guy - mature and he has some familiarity with what we’ve done being with Josh the last few years. The more good players we have, the better our football team’s going to be.’’
Rob said there wasn’t much time to enjoy the situation as the team prepares for the season opener against the Miami Dolphins Monday night.
“This is definitely business,’’ Rob said. “We’re just here focusing on our job and focusing on Miami.’’
Warren cut loose The Patriots released defensive lineman Gerard Warren yesterday to make room for Gronkowski on the 53-man roster. Warren had re-signed with the Patriots during training camp.
At the end of last season, Belichick told Warren he wanted to have him back if everything worked out and the Patriots fulfilled that promise. When asked if Warren could return, Belichick said, “Sure.’’
“I thought he did a good job,’’ Belichick said. “We carried him on our roster and then we had to drop him to make some other moves. I thought he played very competitively.’’
The Patriots now have nine defensive linemen on the active roster.
Almost a full house Despite the rain, there was a bright spot at practice in Gillette Stadium: Nearly every player participated. The only one missing from the media portion of practice was offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, who did not play in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Giants and has not participated in practice since.
Receiver Taylor Price, rookie running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, and defensive linemen Mark Anderson and Jermaine Cunningham all returned to practice.
How much they practiced is not known. The first injury report of the season for the Patriots will be released today because the team plays Monday night.
Fitting the mold Linebacker A.J. Edds, who was claimed off waivers Tuesday from the Dolphins, has the versatility that is in line with what the Patriots like in their players.
“[Edds] played outside linebacker at Iowa, went down to Miami last year and played inside linebacker,’’ Belichick said. “[He] looked like he was having a pretty good training camp, pretty good preseason, injured his knee, missed the year and then came back this year and played inside linebacker down there so I think he has a little bit of inside-outside flexibility, kicking game, has long snapped.’’
Edds, who practiced yesterday, sat out last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Belichick said Edds didn’t stick with Miami because of numbers.
In terms of his long snapping, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Edds could do the job.
“He was a really solid backup long snapper and actually had to do some of it in a preseason game last year,’’ Sparano said.
Leading lights The Patriots have not selected their captains.
“I think we have a lot of good leadership on this team,’’ Belichick said. “And regardless of who the captains are, I think the leadership will come from all the players who provide that, not just the captains.’’
No Moss talk Belichick fended off questions about a reunion with retired receiver Randy Moss. “I wouldn’t talk about any player that’s not on our football team,’’ he said . . . The Patriots, at $1.4 billion, are the third-most valuable franchise in the NFL, according to Forbes magazine’s annual survey. The Cowboys ($1.85 billion) and Redskins ($1.55 billion) top the list.
Monique Walker can be reached at email@example.com.