Jul 24, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) runs through drills during training camp at the team practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Former NFL players think opponents will target Rob Gronkowski's knees

Rob Gronkowski bodes well for the New England Patriots championship chances. They’ve great improved the secondary thanks to the addition of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and now, with Gronk in the fold, their offense will return to near-best in the NFL.

Unfortunately, it’s only training camp, meaning Gronk’s health means nothing as he has to trudge through 16 games in order to make it to the playoffs. And according to former NFL player Rodney Harrison, doing so may be a tough task for the All-Pro tight end as defenses may target Gronkowski’s lower body when on the field.

From the Boston Herald:

“I’m going to tell you this, and it might sound egregious, but people and teams think like this. ‘Heck, if you get a shot at Gronkowski’s knee, you better take it. Because that might be the difference of us going to the playoffs, or us winning the division, and us not winning the division and going to playoffs,’ ” Harrison told the Herald last week. “We would be blind and ignorant to think teams don’t think like that: ‘Take this guy out, take this running back out if you get a chance. Now we don’t have to deal with him twice a year. We don’t have to see Gronkowski in the playoffs.’ Because that offense is a completely different offense without him.”

Rodney Harrison isn’t the only former NFL player who feels this way. Former quarterback and ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck agreed with Harrison’s sentiments on the All-Pro tight-end’s health risks.

“I’d be worried about it, ’cause nobody’s going high on him. He’s going to get a lot of action down by his knees or lower,” Hasselbeck said. “That’s how the rules are set up. You have a guy who’s 265 (pounds) running full speed. If you hit him up high, you might knock yourself out. And you’d probably get fined, and possibly a suspension if you’re a repeat offender of that type of hit. So you’re forced to go low on the guy.

I’m going to tell you this, and it might sound egregious, but people and teams think like this. ‘Heck, if you get a shot at Gronkowski’s knee, you better take it.” – Rodney Harrison

This scenario may have been the case last season when Rob Gronkowski suffered an ACL injury at the hands of Cleveland Browns safety TJ Ward. Many debated the intentions of Ward’s tackle following the action, wondering if his low tackle was by intent or because of Gronkowski’s build.

It’s a bit taboo to proclaim a player dirty without clear-cut evidence, but if anyone knows what goes on amidst a rigorous season, it’s former NFL players. Hopefully Gronkowski doesn’t become a victim to unfortunate circumstances, allowing the world to see the league’s best tight end appear in 16 games for the first time since the 2011 season.

 

Tags: New England Patriots NFL NFL Injuries NFL News Rob Gronkowski Rodney Harrison Tim Hasselbeck

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