Patriots gridiron news: Rob Gronkowski a big fan of Antonio Gates

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 01: Rob Gronkowski
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 01: Rob Gronkowski /

Two of the best tight ends the NFL has ever seen are set to square off Sunday when the Los Angeles Chargers take on the New England Patriots.

 When it comes to longevity and production, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski inspires to do what Antonio Gates has done through his 15 seasons in the NFL.

While the production and dominance has certainly been there for the man we refer to as Gronk, his injury-prone history has handicapped his dominance.  Still, when healthy, the Patriots leader in touchdown receptions gives opposing defenses nightmares just like the Chargers tight end continues to do after so many years in the league.

So, does Gronkowski model his game after Antonio Gates?  Most certainly.

"“Oh yeah, I mean, I’ve always watched Antonio,” Gronkowski said during his press conference Friday.  “I’ve always been a big fan of his game and the way he just runs routes and gets open, gets the separation – just great to watch.  I always liked watching him play.”"

Gronkowski will have a front row seat Sunday at Gillette Stadium as he watches his defense attempt to limit the ageless tight end.  While Gronkowski doesn’t need much help in creating separation, it might be a good idea to talk to Gates about how he has lasted so long in the NFL.

"“He’s on year 15,” Gronk said when asked if impressed by the productive longevity of Antonio Gates.  “He must have a nice program over there to last that long.”"

The case of Chris Hogan’s missing teeth

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Toughness is the first word that comes to mind in describing Patriots receiver Chris Hogan.  Yes, he seems to be always open, but the amount of hits this man takes and returns to the game is the ultimate definition of guts.

Hogan’s latest ailment didn’t even happen during game day.  During practice last week, the Patriots wide receiver lost a pair of top front teeth during a collision with tight end Jacob Hollister.

While dental surgery is in the future, Chris Hogan has been wearing a temporary retainer in the meantime and of course continues to play through the pain.

No Malcom Brown

According to a report by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the New England Patriots expect to be without starting defensive tackle Malcom Brown.

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Brown, who suffered an ankle injury in the team’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons, has had a solid season for the Patriots.  His absence will put more emphasis on the play of veteran defensive line man Alan Branch.  Lawrence Guy and rookie Adam Butler will also see more reps to make up for the void left by the 6-foot-2, 320-pound Brown.