NFC Notes: Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints

Buccaneers

Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski said it took him a while to readjust to playing football again after coming out of retirement.

“You’ve got to relearn the speed of the game,” Gronkowski said, via the Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “That was huge. The first couple plays, I’m like, oh man, these guys are fast – way faster than I remember. As you adjust more and more, going out to practice more and more, you start getting it back. It definitely was a humbling experience.

“But at the same time, I knew if I just kept working, I’d get back to where I needed to get back to. That’s what happened, I feel like. I had some adjustments to make, had to get my conditioning back, learn the plays. That was one of the biggest things. I feel way more comfortable this year than I did last year because you’re thinking at the line, ‘What do I do? Who do I got? What route do I got?’ When you’re doing that, you really can’t be yourself, either. It just feels good to go out there now this year and be more comfortable and flying around.”

Gronkowski added he doesn’t know how long he will play.

“I’m not sure,” Gronkowski said. “That’s why I just do one year at a time. Because I don’t really know with Tom, either. He’s got a one-year deal. It all goes on how I play, too. Say I had a two-year deal, if I didn’t play that well, I could be gone. That’s why I feel like at my age, it’s just great to do one-year deals. Because if I play well, they’re going to want me back anyways. If I’m not feeling it, well, then I’ve really got no commitment. Just taking it one year at a time I feel like is the best way for my career.

“It was good to take that time off, but it was like, wow, I’ve still got some left. I can still play. My energy is still there. My skills are still there. It feels good. Just take it one year at a time, though, because football is vicious. It’s violent. It takes a lot of energy. But I feel good. I have that spark. I have that jump still. It’s good to come out here and practice and enjoy it and be jumping around.”

  • Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer says Gronkowski told him he actually has four cracked ribs, one broken rib and a punctured lung, which is why he’s out this week and potentially longer. 

Panthers

  • NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reports the Panthers tried to trade for CB C.J. Henderson prior to the 2021 draft, but it took until last week for them to finally get a deal done. 

Saints

  • Saints’ HC Sean Payton said he wasn’t playing conservatively with 9 minutes left against the Giants: “We’re trying to score again. Now we felt like we ran the ball effectively, but we’re trying to score again.” (Mike Triplett)
  • According to ESPN’s Mike Tripplett, since the Saints didn’t put LT Terron Armstead on IR with an elbow injury, he should be close to a return.

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