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Josh McDaniels: Rob Gronkowski is one of tougher tight ends in NFL

Ryan Hannable
December 11, 2018 - 2:00 pm

Rob Gronkowski had his best game of the season Sunday in Miami.

The tight end caught a season-high eight passes on eight targets for 107 yards and a touchdown. In the process he took several big hits, which has been the case pretty much since he entered the league. Still, he played 77 of the 81 offensive snaps.

Speaking on a conference call Tuesday, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels praised his toughness, calling him one of the tougher tight ends in the league.

"There’s no question that he’s an extremely tough guy. I think we have a lot of those guys on our team and Gronk’s certainly one of the tougher ones in the league at that position," he said. "I think because of his size and where he usually catches the football, which is in between the numbers, there’s a lot of bodies that eventually come downhill towards him and have an opportunity to make a decision how they want to try to tackle him. Most of those people usually go low, they could choose to do some other thing, but a lot of times they go low because of how big he is and the concept of trying to tackle him high generally isn’t high on everybody’s wish list.

"There’s no question that playing his position at his size and understanding what happens in our league now with the emphasis on not hitting people in the head and all the rest of it is it requires a tremendous amount of courage to go in there and continue to run pass routes inside. You know you’re eventually going to incur some punishment, some hits, and thankfully most of those are not to the head and neck area anymore and that’s a good thing. But there’s no doubt that toughness and courage is a huge element of playing inside in our league and in the passing game and having success and being able to stay focused on the football, finish the play properly, understanding in the back of your mind, you know you’re going to take a hit."

For the year, Gronkowski has 43 receptions for 637 yards and three touchdowns, but those numbers should go up this week since the All-Pro tight end has historically owned the Steelers.

In six career games, he has 39 catches for 664 yards and eight touchdowns.

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