Saturday wasn’t just about Tom Brady’s preseason debut, or Jimmy Garoppolo’s turnovers, or an encouraging drive from Rex Burkhead with which we’ll likely get carried away, or Cyrus Jones’ punt returns. It was about Rob Gronkowski playing in a preseason game.
Although Gronkowski turned heads in a memorable 2010 preseason debut, he hasn’t exactly been a safe bet to be seen by exhibition attendees. As he has battled injuries and the Patriots have managed him over the years, Gronkowski went four straight preseasons without taking the field once.
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That changed Saturday, when the veteran tight end played in 13 snaps over two series. He didn’t get a single target, but he also left the game unscathed after being limited to just eight games last season.
“It was great,” Brady said of seeing Gronkowski play. “I think for all of us to get out there and play is just something you can’t ever replicate in just practice. To get those reps in and to get the speed of the game, everything’s just happening the way it normally happens. For him to be out there for all of training camp, he’s building so much confidence and I’m proud of him, so we’ve just got to keep it going.”
Brady has attributed much of his success to personal trainer Alex Guerrero, a controversial figure who has been accused of being a “snake oil salesman” who pretended to be a doctor when he wasn’t.
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Controversial or not, Brady and Guerrero have found results in keeping the quarterback healthy and in tremendous shape at age 40. Trying to find similar results, Gronkowski began working with Guerrero this offseason.
Asked about the two working together following Saturday’s preseason loss to the Texans, Brady was measured in his response.
“Everyone knows how I feel about that,” Brady said, with “that” seemingly meaning working with Guerrero. “I’m just happy that he’s out there playing and healthy and building his confidence. I think that’s what everyone’s out there to try to do. Different types of experiences that you have force you to do different things, and I’m just proud of his effort.”