Chris Gronkowski lives on both ends of the spectrum. He is famous for a last name that he shares with brother Rob Gronkowski. But the older Gronkowski makes a living blocking and covering kicks, two of the game’s least glamorous tasks. He talks about the two extremes and everything in between in this exclusive interview.
Gronkowski has become a household name thanks to Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, the most dominant pass-catching tight end in the league (when healthy). But while younger brother Rob excels with flash, older brother Chris is all about smash.
Chris Gronkowski spent last season with the Broncos. Former Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy must have liked what he saw, as he brought Gronkowski with him to San Diego.
Gronkowski enters his fourth season with his fourth different team. But having the familiarity with McCoy should help bring consistency to what has been an inconsistent NFL career thus far.
Gronkowski has been one of training camp’s pleasant surprises. Getting reps with both the first- and second-team offense, as well as working on special teams, he is doing whatever it takes to make the team.
Brian Ducoffe: This is your fourth training camp with your fourth team. Has this camp stood out for you more than the others?
Chris Gronkowski: You know, camp is camp. You go there to work hard and it’s just the same here. Working hard, hitting hard and getting ready for the season.
BD: You were with Mike McCoy in Denver last year. How has he changed from being an offensive coordinator to head coach?
CG: Being with Mike, he’s brought a little over with him. Some stuff I’ve already known, kind of mixed it in with Whiz’s little mix as well. But it’s stuff I know, though, and it’s a similar offense to what I’ve been a part of in the past. It’s definitely been an easy transition.
BD: How do you find your role on a new team?
CG: You just have to get in there and kind of do whatever you can to fill a role on that team. I came in and we’ve got a lot of good players here. I’ve got to find my spot on special teams and see if I can add on to the offense a little bit.
BD: You’ve been getting a lot of reps with both the first and second teams. How do you balance working on offense and on special teams?
CG: Ever since I got into the league, I knew special teams would be huge for me and my ticket in. It’s definitely something I’m always working on. You know it’s easy to go in and study the playbooks, the offense, catching passes and stuff like that, but it’s really the little things on special teams that help you make the team.
BD: Danny Woodhead was a rival for so many years. Talk about playing with him now on the same team. What’s he like?
CG: (Laughs) Danny’s awesome. I met him a few times going to watch my brother play. Just hanging out with him during the offseason and doing a few events here and there, going to the Super Bowl and stuff like that. I think I told him at the last Super Bowl that one day I was going to block for him. It just happened to be in San Diego, which is something we never would have thought. It’s kind of a cool feeling since we’ve been friends in the past, so it’s definitely great to come out here with him.
BD: How would you assess your training camp so far?
CG: Training camp is going great. We’re working hard. Less than a week until our first preseason game. I think I’m definitely progressing. Everyone’s doing good and we’re really gaining a lot of momentum right now.
BD: For you, what does it take for a team to have a good training camp?
CG: The real thing is just a lack of injuries. If you can get out of training camp with the least amount of injuries possible, that’s a great training camp. But besides that you’ve got to be going hard, working hard. As long as you’ve got guys willing to work it’s going to be a good camp.
BD: Signing in the offseason, now a fourth-year guy, what type of goals did you set for yourself for this training camp?
CG: Man, my goal every year is to make the team.
BD: To the fans who see your last name and instantly think of your brother, who’s had so much success, do you ever feel pressured to meet certain expectations associated with your last name?
CG: I hear it all the time. People come up and go, “You’re Rob’s brother.” And they always think I’m the youngest brother, which is great. But I like it. At least they know my name, which is pretty cool. A lot of them are out there cheering for me. They’re happy I’m here and hoping I can do something special like my brother.
BD: Your brother has had a tough offseason, what with the surgeries and all. Are you communicating with him often?
CG: Since camp? Pretty much never. There is a three-hour time difference, so when I’m here and finally get out at 9:45 p.m. he’s already in bed. It’s tough during training camp. When we start getting a couple days off I’ll start communicating. I just talked to my mom for the first time two days ago. It’s a grind. It’s the fourth year, so they know. So it’s been tough, but once the season starts up it gets easier. But that’s why we have so much fun in the offseason! We try to get together as much as we can.