FOXBORO, Mass. — An assortment of notes from a tight end-heavy Thursday at the New England Patriots’ facility:
— Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski offered high praise for his Seattle Seahawks’ counterpart, Jimmy Graham.
Graham is enjoying a resurgence this season after recovering from the torn patellar tendon that ended his lackluster 2015 campaign. He has 38 catches for 545 yards and three touchdowns in eight games after catching just two touchdown passes all of last season.
“I have a super high level of respect for Jimmy Graham, especially with what happened to him last year and the way he came back and bounced back,” said Gronkowski, who’s dealt with several serious injuries since entering the NFL in 2010.
“I’ve been through it a little bit too just like him with an injury, and the way he bounced back, you’ve got to give him a high praise. It’s not easy to come back from that, so it’s always good to see another fellow tight end be doing super well and come back from an injury like that.”
New England, which hosts Seattle this Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, has yet to face a tight end of Graham’s caliber this season.
— The Patriots know the Seahawks well from their matchup in Super Bowl XLIX. Martellus Bennett was not on that 2014 Pats squad, but he, too, is familiar with many Seahawks players thanks to his brother, Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett.
The Patriots tight end spoke Thursday about crossing up Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin on the basketball court and texting Cliff Avril during Seattle team meetings. Bennett also said he somehow ended up in a group text thread with his brother and the rest of Seattle’s defensive line.
“It started in the summer,” he explained. “I was like, ‘Y’all can take me off now. The season’s starting.’ ”
Bennett said he wasn’t able to glean any inside information from the group.
“They just talk about rich-people stuff,” he said.
— Bennett was highly complimentary of the Seahawks’ vaunted defense, which ranks third in the NFL in both points allowed per game and sacks.
“They’re one of the most sound defenses that we’ve played,” Bennett said. “I think we’ve played some very good defenses throughout the year, but the Seahawks are always top five in every category by the end of the year. And it’s no different this year. They’ve got a lot of length outside, a lot of good players. Earl Thomas is one of the best at playing the middle of the field, sideline to sideline. So it’s a challenge. But hey, every week’s a challenge.”
He added: “Their whole team is good. They’re just phenomenal athletes, and they’re very smart. They play hard, they play to the whistle, so you’ve just got to go out there and match their intensity and make them match your intensity. I’m not one for someone else setting the tempo. You try to set the tempo and raise the bar.”
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images