FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On a night in which the Patriots didn't put their best foot forward in a 36-35 loss to the Rams, rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski was one individual bright spot.
The second-round draft choice finished with three catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns -- his first score a demonstration of power and determination as he dragged linebacker James Laurinaitis 5 yards into the end zone; the second an ultra-athletic play as he leaped high in the air for a 20-yard touchdown grab in the end zone.
"He’s a big guy, the kind of guy you really have to get a hold of," Laurinaitis said. "Obviously, he’s crazy athletic -- you got to see that on his second touchdown catch."
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski also drew praise from quarterback Tom Brady.
"He's such a good player, such a big kid," Brady said. "It's hard to tackle him because he's so strong, and that second touchdown catch was equally impressive. He went up and got it, and that's what we are going to need this year."
Gronkowski, whose hair drew attention as it got butchered by the team's veterans in the days leading up to the game, said after the game that his level of comfort in the offense has grown since he first arrived.
On his 14-yard touchdown catch, in which he took Laurinaitis for a ride, Gronkowski explained, "I just give it 100 percent every play, so when I catch the ball, I just make sure I get up the field, tuck the ball away, get up the field and try to get as much yardage as I can. I saw the end zone right there."
Asked about developing a rhythm with Brady, Gronkowski said, "You know, I’m going out there every practice, working hard, running my routes. He’s throwing passes a lot to me. Just working hard out there, getting a connection going. Basically, practice hard and everything will work out.”