Patriots fans are witnessing Rob Gronkowski slowly inch toward joining the game's elite tight ends.
Jason Witten is a member of that group, and he will be visiting Foxboro this weekend when his Cowboys take the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday afternoon.
"He's obviously got a lot of skills," Bill Belichick said, when asked about Witten. "We have to try to figure out how to deal with them. That's one of the things we're in the process of doing."
As for how Gronk stacks up compared to Witten, who's played in 131 career regular-season games and has scored 37 touchdowns since 2003? Gronk already has 15 touchdown receptions in just 21 regular-season games. It took Witten until his fifth year to reach 15 touchdowns and Gronk already has the edge in reaching double digits in a single-season, as he grabbed 10 TDs as a rookie last season. Witten, who has cracked the 1,000-yard plateau three different times in his career, caught a career-high nine touchdowns last year.
"I think both guys are similar in that they can block," Belichick said. "They're productive in the running game and the passing game. You have tough matchups in both spots.
"They have a little different styles," he added. "They're both big guys that can block and are productive in the passing game so there’s some similarities there. I don't know if we know Witten well enough to even compare him to Gronkowski."