Super Bowl LII: Malcolm Jenkins will be watching Rob Gronkowski, plus more news, notes

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Rob Gronkowski speaks to the press during the New England Patriots Media Availability for Super Bowl LII at the Mall of America on February 1, 2018 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

Rob Gronkowski, cleared from the concussion protocol on Thursday, will play in Super Bowl LII. Now it’s up to the Eagles to make sure the tight end doesn’t take over the game.

That responsibility will likely fall to Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has covered premier tight ends such as Jason Witten, Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed. Jenkins, though, said Gronkowski is in a class of his own.

“His size is significant,” Jenkins said of his 6-6, 260-pound foe. “Most guys who are big are usually kind of slow, they’ll try to box you out and use their bodies. He can do that, but he’s also stretching the field, running vertical routes probably more than he runs anything else.”

The Eagles prepared the past two weeks for Gronkowski to play, so his availability that became official late in the week was no surprise. That won’t make it any easier.

“He’s stretching the field, and when all else fails, Tom Brady can throw him open, and he catches anything that comes in his wing span,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be a tough matchup, but one I’m looking forward to.”

RUNNING BACKS BETTER BE READY

The Patriots use a rotation of running backs and you better check your ego at the door. Dion Lewis, who led the team with 896 rushing yards with six touchdowns, made eight starts. Mike Gillislee, who was tied for second with five touchdowns, made two starts and Rex Burkhead had three starts and scored five rushing touchdowns. The Patriots will not only lineup their running backs in the backfield, but they could move to the slot or even split wide.

“We all know we’re not going to be out there every single play,” said James White, who started four games in the regular season, none in the postseason but has three total scores. “Our coaches do a great job with the gameplan, explaining to us situations we might be in and anticipate it.”

HARRISON’S IMPACT

After being released by the Steelers, linebacker James Harrison has made an impact with the Patriots. In his first game with the Pats, the regular-season finale against the Jets, Harrison had three sacks and one tackle. In the two postseason games he’s played in, Harrison compiled a total of six tackles. Harrison said he’s still learning the Patriots’ defense, which is a surprise, considering he’s played so well in the scheme.

“Nothing is a smooth transition when you got to learn a new defense, especially 16, 17 weeks in,” Harrison said. “You feel comfortable with certain things and certain things you don’t, it’s the nature of learning things, practicing and getting a comfortably with practicing each defense more.”

Harrison is more known for playing with the Steelers, and it was a bitter breakup. Yet, he doesn’t expect Steelers’ fans to root for the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Real Steeler fans should root for whoever they want to,” he said. “That don’t matter. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”

FOOTBALL/FUTBOL

It’s the age-old question: Which is more difficult to win, a Super Bowl or the soccer’s Women’s World Cup?

OK, so maybe no one had ever asked that question until this week, but that’s because Julie Ertz was never around to answer it. She is a midfielder on the U.S. national team that won the World Cup in 2015, but she is also the wife of Eagles TE Zach Ertz.

“Two different sports,” Julie said earlier this week, sticking to the similarities rather than the differences between women’s soccer and the NFL. “That’s the biggest stage on each side. They are both big. It’s as far as you can go in your sport, and that’s massive, that’s huge, that’s an amazing accomplishment.”

Ertz is a well-known player on the pitch, but a video that went viral showing her celebrating the Eagles’ win in the NFC title game two weeks ago with her soccer teammates elevated her to one of the most recognizable faces of Super Bowl week.

“It’s crazy,” she said at Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, where she showed up to ask Zach a question as a reporter but was swarmed by others in the media. “I’m here as a wife, I’m here as a fan, and I’m here to support him in any way that’s possible. I came here just to interview him, and now I have all these things (microphones and cameras) in my face right now.

“This is his moment, this is his game.’’

PATS’ MOVING PARTS

The key to the Patriots’ defense is the interchangeability of the secondary. Corners will play safety and sometimes safeties will play corner. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia doesn’t try to squeeze players into positions their not comfortable with. But the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile.

“As a group, we take a lot of pride because of that versatility,” safety Devin McCourty said. “At times during the season, we had a chance to have three or four of us on the field at the same time. We love that about our group. The best part is none of us have egos.”

SUPER NUMBERS

43: Postseason games the Patriots have played in since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. No NFL team has played in more games than the Patriots since Kraft brought the team. The Green Bay Packers’ shareholders group comes close at 36 and the Rooney Family, who own the Steelers have played in the third most at 34.

13: The Eagles are one of 13 teams yet to win a Super Bowl.

3: NFL championships won by Eagles (1948, 1949, 1960) before the Super Bowl era.

8: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be the first coach-quarterback duo to compete in eight Super Bowls.

LIII: For those looking ahead, Super Bowl 53 is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It will be the third Super Bowl in Atlanta

RUNNING BACKS BETTER BE READY

The Patriots use a rotation of running backs and you better check your ego at the door. Dion Lewis, who led the team with 896 rushing yards with six touchdowns, made eight starts. Mike Gillislee, who was tied for second with five touchdowns, made two starts and Rex Burkhead had three starts and scored five rushing touchdowns. The Patriots will not only lineup their running backs in the backfield, but they could move to the slot or even split wide.

“We all know we’re not going to be out there every single play,” said James White, who started four games in the regular season, none in the postseason but has three total scores. “Our coaches do a great job with the gameplan, explaining to us situations we might be in and anticipate it.”

LIII

For those looking ahead, Super Bowl 53 is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It will be the third Super Bowl in Atlanta

43

Postseason games the Patriots have played in since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. No NFL team has played in more games than the Patriots since Kraft brought the team. The Green Bay Packers’ shareholders group comes close at 36 and the Rooney Family, who own the Steelers have played in the third most at 34.

8

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be the first coach-quarterback duo to compete in eight Super Bowls.

3

NFL championships won by Eagles (1948, 1949, 1960) before the Super Bowl era.

13

The Eagles are one of 13 teams yet to win a Super Bowl.

FOOTBALL/FUTBOL

It’s the age-old question: Which is more difficult to win, a Super Bowl or the soccer’s Women’s World Cup?

OK, so maybe no one had ever asked that question until this week, but that’s because Julie Ertz was never around to answer it. She is a midfielder on the U.S. national team that won the World Cup in 2015, but she is also the wife of Eagles TE Zach Ertz.

“Two different sports,” Julie said earlier this week, sticking to the similarities rather than the differences between women’s soccer and the NFL. “That’s the biggest stage on each side. They are both big. It’s as far as you can go in your sport, and that’s massive, that’s huge, that’s an amazing accomplishment.”

Ertz is a well-known player on the pitch, but a video that went viral showing her celebrating the Eagles’ win in the NFC title game two weeks ago with her soccer teammates elevated her to one of the most recognizable faces of Super Bowl week.

“It’s crazy,” she said at Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, where she showed up to ask Zach a question as a reporter but was swarmed by others in the media. “I’m here as a wife, I’m here as a fan, and I’m here to support him in any way that’s possible. I came here just to interview him, and now I have all these things (microphones and cameras) in my face right now.

“This is his moment, this is his game.’’

PATS’ MOVING PARTS

The key to the Patriots’ defense is the interchangeability of the secondary. Corners will play safety and sometimes safeties will play corner. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia doesn’t try to squeeze players into positions their not comfortable with. But the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile.

“As a group, we take a lot of pride because of that versatility,” safety Devin McCourty said. “At times during the season, we had a chance to have three or four of us on the field at the same time. We love that about our group. The best part is none of us have egos.”

HARRISON’S IMPACT

After being released by the Steelers, linebacker James Harrison has made an impact with the Patriots. In his first game with the Pats, the regular-season finale against the Jets, Harrison had three sacks and one tackle. In the two postseason games he’s played in, Harrison compiled a total of six tackles. Harrison said he’s still learning the Patriots’ defense, which is a surprise, considering he’s played so well in the scheme.

“Nothing is a smooth transition when you got to learn a new defense, especially 16, 17 weeks in,” Harrison said. “You feel comfortable with certain things and certain things you don’t, it’s the nature of learning things, practicing and getting a comfortably with practicing each defense more.”

Harrison is more known for playing with the Steelers, and it was a bitter breakup. Yet, he doesn’t expect Steelers’ fans to root for the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Real Steeler fans should root for whoever they want to,” he said. “That don’t matter. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”



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