Gronkowski: Gordon ‘reliable whenever we need him'


FOXBORO -- The word "reliable" isn't one that's been associated with Josh Gordon all that often over the course of his pro career. But that's the adjective Rob Gronkowski chose to describe his teammate at his press conference on Thursday. 

"He's brought a lot," Gronkowski said of Gordon. "The way he just plays. The way he catches the ball, gets that burst, gets us the first downs when we need it. Just another player on our team that's reliable whenever we need him. Just great to have him. Great to have him as part of the team."

Gordon has used his impressive acceleration to burst ahead to lead the league in yards per catch since his first game with the Patriots in Week 4 (18.0), and he's leading the Patriots in receiving yards (701) despite not donning a Patriots uniform until the last week in September. In the last three weeks, he's caught 13 passes on 16 targets for 224 yards and a touchdown.

Aside from his sheer ability to stay on the field and work within the Patriots program, what might be most impressive about what Gordon has done in New England is that he's ripped off huge chunks of yardage without very many stretch-the-field types of plays. He's been a yards-after-catch machine, ranking third in YAC per reception among receivers who've played 50 percent of their team's offensive snaps (6.8).

Gordon has flashed an ability to be able to pick up the system ever since the Patriots got him prepped to play in his first game with the team back in Week 4, according to Gronkowski. That understanding of the offense combined with next-level physical ability has led to some high-level production. 

"I would say in the first week when he got out there playing the game," Gronkowski said, "just the way he's been working every single week, week-in, week-out, just trying to get better, you see it on the practice field and then you see it in the game. It's a great guy to have out there and just a phenomenal athlete, too."

The Patriots will need all of their athletes to show up in Pittsburgh this weekend if they want to keep pace with the Steelers high-flying passing offense. Lately, Gordon has been as reliable as any of them.

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