Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is pretty complimentary of his opponents in the leadup to the games against them.
This week was no different. With the San Francisco 49ers coming to town on Sunday, Belichick took time to praise All-Pro tight end George Kittle. Belichick’s praise of Kittle was so strong that it actually made some think that he was taking a shot at former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“Kittle is a great player,” Belichick said earlier this week. “He does everything well. I’d put him right at the top of the league there, period. His ability to run, catch, get open, after the catch, block, he does everything at a high level. He’s as good as anybody that I’ve coached or as good as anybody that we’ve played against.”
Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who was Gronkowski’s teammate in New England from 2010-2016, didn’t like the way that Belichick praised Kittle.
“I don’t get why he is doing that,” Ninkovich said in an interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Thursday. “It seems like a little shot. It seems like a little jab.
“I just think it may be a slight little jab there, which seems a little unnecessary. But, Kittle is good. You can’t argue with the fact that Kittle is the best tight end in the game right now. I personally think he is. He is better than [Travis] Kelce in the running game.”
Gronkowski retired following the Patriots’ 2018 Super Bowl-winning season. However, he unretired in April to join former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
While Ninkovich doesn’t think Kittle is the greatest tight end of all-time like Gronkowski, he does believe that Kittle is currently the best tight end in the league.
“He can block, he’s tough,” Ninkovich said of Kittle. “He has a little bit of craziness to him where if he’s going to get hit, he is going to jump up and scream a little bit. For me, I like him as the No. 1 tight end in the league right now. Best ever? It’s still Gronk to me.”
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