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Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer 356d

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski: Frustration with OPI calls is inconsistency

NFL, New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on Tuesday expressed frustration over how inconsistently offensive pass interference penalties are officiated. Gronkowski was penalized for OPI in Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers in what coach Bill Belichick later said was a "tough call."

"If the consistency was there 100 percent, then I'd be cool with whatever it is," Gronkowski said. "One week, we're told we can play, it really isn't going to be called, they can hold and you can slap off their hands. Then the next week, if you touch the guy, it's a PI. I just wish I knew the consistency, so I can base my game off and practice and be prepared for the game and know the rules going in from week to week."

Gronkowski and offensive pass interference penalties were a hot topic in 2015, when he was called for it twice during a game against the Denver Broncos. At the time, he had led the NFL with six OPI calls.

Belichick has noted Gronkowski's work in recent years in trying to avoid offensive pass interference penalties, most recently during a Monday interview on sports radio WEEI, when he said, "Rob and I have talked about that situation ... I think he really tries to do what is legal and tries not to put himself in a situation where they can call him. He doesn't push off. He doesn't try to create space. He tries to defend himself, and that is what he's taught to do."

Meanwhile, Gronkowski said Belichick gives the players a feel for tendencies of each officiating crew, which he said is "super helpful." At the same time, Gronkowski complimented officials for doing a "tremendous job" while noting the difficulty of their work.

"It's a tough job out there, just like us players," he said.

As a player, Gronkowski relayed that it helps when there is a clear understanding of the way the game will be officiated.

"As long as you know what kind of game is going to be called, from the beginning; my favorite time is when it's allowed to just be played," he said. "I can go full speed, linebacker is ready for me, boom, we bump, it's just straight-up football. Sometimes I feel like the game of football can get taken away. There is definitely physical [play] that is involved in getting open sometimes."

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