New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and can be seen wreaking havoc on opposing defenses week after week. While the Dolphins have had some success in the past defending him, they could be in for a long day on Sunday, especially if their linebackers don't heal quick enough to play.
"They have to take it one day at a time and see how things progress throughout the course of the week, and how practice goes. We have 46 slots available for this game and we’re going to have 46 players prepare to play the game. That’s what we’ve got to do every single week and that’s what we’ll do this week, without a doubt.”
If Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins aren't ready to go, the responsibility will fall more towards the safeties - Reshad Jones and Jimmy Wilson. They both talked about the challenges that Gronkowski presents to the defense and how they plan to attack him and the other weapons the Patriots have on the offensive side of the ball.
“Like Cort (Cortland Finnegan) said, his passion, and he’s huge," said Jones. "He’s one of the biggest tight ends there is out there. He has one of the best quarterbacks in the game getting him the ball. The great thing about Jimmy is he’s very versatile. He could play every position. He’s played every position in the back end. He’s played cornerback, nickel and safety. I think he’ll do a tremendous job coming in and filling that role.””
Wilson talked about making tackles, which is ironic since he can be seen every week missing tackles all over the field. However, he knows what's at stake and perhaps he can rise up to the occasion.
“He’s tall, he can catch, he’s an athletic guy. He likes to play football. People get away from how important that is. He’s having fun out there. You see him dancing on the sidelines. He has a good time out there. When you’re having fun, you’re usually playing well," he said. "You just can’t miss tackles. Edelman, you see the impact he has on offense. He has about the same impact on special teams. I think last time we played them, he was leading NFL history in average at punt returns. They’ve got special guys out there. Gronkowski is running around like a mad man. If you don’t catch and tackle these guys and you let them rip off big plays and get confidence and get you on your heels, they know how to keep a team down. Once they get up, it’s hard to come back on them, so you’ve got to come out of the gate ready to play.”
Joe Philbin said that he is confident in what Wilson and Jones can bring to the table together and isn't worried about them getting on the same page since they have both played back there before at the same time.
“I think we were able to just kind of play our defense and our system and our scheme without a lot of dramatic adjustments. I thought he had a good grasp of what he was doing, number one – the adjustments, the checks, all of that stuff. I thought it was relatively seamless in that area.”
The defense will have their hands full on Sunday even if everyone is healthy. Having players out of the game will only add to the massive challenge the Dolphins face on the road.