Rob Gronkowski of New England Patriots deflects Travis Kelce of Kansas City Chiefs comparisons

NFL


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski deflected any comparisons to fellow tight end Travis Kelce leading into Sunday night’s AFC showdown between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, but he praised Kelce as a “great player.”

“The rankings, the comparisons and all that, I’ll just leave that up to you guys [in the media], whatever you say,” Gronkowski said Wednesday. “I just try to do my best. I think he’s a great player, and I’ve just got to worry about what I can do to help out the team.”

New England’s Gronkowski remains limited in practice with an ankle injury, but he said that his body feels good and he will “be ready to play Sunday night,” which sets up the inevitable comparisons with Kansas City’s Kelce, as they are two of the best tight ends in the NFL.

“He’s quick, he’s shifty, which is very crucial to have,” Gronkowski said of Kelce. “He knows how to get separation and get away from the defender. I like watching him play when I get a chance.”

Gronkowski was amused to learn that both he and Kelce are 29 years old, even though Gronkowski has been playing in the NFL since 2010, while Kelce entered the league in 2013. Gronkowski said the two have met a few times, mostly at NFL events such as the Super Bowl, but they don’t have much of a connection beyond that.

This season, Kelce has the edge on the stat sheet, having caught 28 passes for 407 yards, with three touchdowns. Gronkowski has 23 receptions for 308 yards and one touchdown, as he has been kept out of the end zone in each of the past four games.

“I’ve got to pick it up. I’ve got to start scoring,” Gronkowski said, after noting that he’s happy as long as the Patriots are winning.

Because some view the 6-foot-6, 268-pound Gronkowski as more of a combination tight end (equally effective as a pass-catcher and a blocker) and the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Kelce as more of a bigger wide receiver who is less likely to be an in-line blocker, Gronkowski was asked if he even considers them playing the same position.

“You can look for yourself. I think he’s a great player and can definitely learn from guys like that. Just his shiftiness is nice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gronkowski took a moment to acknowledge the Boston Red Sox advancing to the American League Championship Series, relaying that he has watched “a couple innings here and there” and has been impressed with how they came together as a team.

Sunday night’s Patriots-Chiefs game in Foxborough is scheduled to kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET, which is about an hour after the start of Game 2 of the ALCS, as the Red Sox host the Houston Astros at Fenway Park.

Gronkowski had some fun with the scheduling.

“That’s pretty nuts. But you know Boston sports fans, they’re going to have two TVs — the Red Sox game right there and the Patriots game right there,” he said. “Probably halftime of our game, the Red Sox game will be [finishing] up or something. New England fans, they’re die-hard fans — not just for football, but for every sport around here. So you know they’ll find a way to watch both.”



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