Patriots gridiron news: Rob Gronkowski sees ‘big challenge’ vs. Jaguars

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Rob Gronkowski
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Rob Gronkowski /

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski sees a “big challenge” in facing perhaps the most talented defense the team has seen all season. 

If you think the New England Patriots are looking past the Jacksonville Jaguars, you are highly mistaken.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski emphasized just how challenging Sunday’s AFC title game matchup will be for the offense.  The dominant playmaker will be a focal point for the Jaguars’ defense and will be a key to how successful or unsuccessful the Patriots’ offense will be.

In all, Gronkowski knows he and his teammates have to prepare themselves.

"“That’s is a big challenge,” Gronk said of Jacksonville’s defense.  “They have very talented players on both sides of the ball.  Especially on defense, they have many, many great players.  It is going to be a big challenge.  It is the best team we are facing all year coming up in the AFC Championship Game this weekend.  We have to be ready.  We have to be prepared.  It is going to be a big, tough challenge, for sure.”"

Gronkowski, who missed last season’s playoff run, is playing some of the best football of his career.  He will certainly have to be at his best on Sunday, especially if the Jaguars decide to stick second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey on him.

In practicing against Jacksonville in training camp, Rob Gronkowski recognizes how competitive they are and knows he’ll have to match their physical nature.

"“They are competitive,” He said.  “They are a very, very competitive defense – fast, tough, physical and like I said, competitive. You have to be ready to bring it. You have to be ready to play. You have to be ready to make tough plays. There are going to be no easy open plays or wide-open plays. They are going to be tough, contested plays that we are going to have to make. They are just very competitive.”"

Malcolm Mitchell done for the season

Malcolm Mitchell’s sophomore season in the NFL is now officially a complete loss.  Battling a knee injury all season long, the New England Patriots wide receiver was not activated to the 53-man roster on Wednesday.

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Mitchell, who was placed on injured reserve Sept 7 with eligibility to return, has been practicing the past few weeks.  His presence on the practice field gave hope that he would return for the playoffs.  The team had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to activate the Georgia Bulldogs alum, but the fact that they didn’t means they feel he was ready to contribute.

With Mitchell not returning, either veteran receiver Kenny Britt or Phillip Dorsett will be looked at to make plays on the outside.

Jonathan Jones placed on injured reserve 

The New England Patriots will be without their No. 4 cornerback for the remainder of the playoffs.

The team announced Wednesday that they have placed Jonathan Jones on injured reserve.  This comes after he suffered an ankle/foot injury in the closing minutes of the team’s 35-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

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Jones really stepped up this season in the absence of both Eric Rowe and Stephon Gilmore at key points in the season.  He not only provided valuable depth at cornerback, he was a core special-teamer.  While the team should be okay without Jones, his loss will hurt if any of the team’s top three cornerbacks go down with an injury.

To account for Jones’ roster spot, the Patriots have re-signed wide receiver Bernard Reedy.