Patriots Vs. Texans Notes: ‘Limited’ Rob Gronkowski Makes Season Debut


FOXBORO, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski played sparingly Thursday night in his 2016 season debut, but the big tight end said he was just happy to be back on the field after sitting out the New England Patriots’ first two contests.

“I was definitely limited, obviously, but it’s all good,” Gronkowski said after the Patriots pasted the Houston Texans 27-0 at Gillette Stadium. “Just talking to everyone — the coaches, myself, the trainers — we did what we thought was right. We got the win. We’re 3-0, which is amazing. I got to get my feet wet. It felt great just to go out there. I blocked the whole time, but it feels great just playing football again.

Gronkowski, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, played just 14 snaps in the game, including a mere three in the second half. He stayed in as a blocker on 13 of those snaps, and admitted the one pass pattern he ran — which resulted in an incompletion in the end zone on third down — was not his finest.

“Oh yeah, that wasn’t that good,” Gronkowski said with a laugh. “We’re just going to throw that one out. I don’t even know if I want to watch it. But it’s all good. We got that win, baby.”

Meanwhile, the Patriots’ other tight end, Martellus Bennett, hardly left the field for the third consecutive game. He finished with two catches for 10 yards and also carried the ball once for six yards on an end-around — the first rushing attempt of his career.

“He’s one heck of a player,” Gronkowski said of Bennett. “I’m so happy he’s here with us. He’s super unselfish, and the dude goes hard every single play — blocking game, passing game, whatever it is. It’s great to be teamed up with him. He’s a great player.”

Some additional notes from Thursday night:

— Running back LeGarrette Blount once again was a bull for New England, racking up 105 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. It was the second time in as many weeks Blount had surpassed the 100-yard plateau.

Blount’s longest run of the night came early in the fourth quarter, when he broke through the left side of the line and raced 41 yards to paydirt to close out the scoring.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who ran the ball three times himself for 14 yards, helped spring Blount with a booming block on Texans safety Quintin Demps.

— Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler helped neutralize stud Texans rookie Will Fuller, who caught just three passes for 31 yards on seven targets after going over 100 yards in each of Houston’s first two games.

Butler also came through with a key fourth-down pass breakup late in the game on a play that bore great resemblance to his Super Bowl-sealing interception.

— Butler and the rest of the Patriots’ defense tormented Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler, who looked thoroughly overmatched in his third game in a Texans uniform.

The former Denver Broncos backup, whose overtime win over the Patriots last season helped land him his massive Texans contract, took responsibility for the loss in his postgame meeting with reporters.

“I think anytime an offense struggles with developing a rhythm, struggles with scoring points, I think the first think you have to examine is the quarterback,” Osweiler said. “And I’ll take the blame for this one. Anytime a team doesn’t score points, it’s on me. I’ll examine this tape very closely, (and) I will become a better quarterback from this experience. But the bottom line is that I needed to play better tonight to allow our team to have an opportunity to try to win the ballgame.”

— The Texans still have yet to win a game in Foxboro since their inception in 2002. They’re 0-4 at Gillette and have been outscored 150-49 over those four losses.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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