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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
New contracts, same excitement for TEs

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, each the recipient of a lucrative contract extension this offseason, expressed excitement on Wednesday as the team's season opener against Tennessee draws near.

Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski says he is "super excited" for Sunday's opener.
"As soon as you know preseason's over, you get excited," said Hernandez. "And you went through all that hard training in camp, offseason workouts and everything to do what we're doing on Sunday, so I'm excited for it."

Gronkowski added that he's feeling an array of emotions leading up to Sunday.

"You're everything, always," he said. "Super excited and sometimes I get nervous going out to practice, just thinking that it's almost game time. I know when game time comes around, and I'm super excited, which I am right now for it, and also definitely nervous. Basically nervous almost every single game. Especially the season-opener."

Hernandez, whose new deal extends through the 2018 season, says that the contract is not something that crosses his mind while on the field.

"Honestly, you don't even think about that. You just keep playing," he said. "Yeah, you're OK, maybe you can relax a little bit more off the field. But on the field you're still trying to become the best player you can be, go out there, make plays and perform."

Gronkowski, meanwhile, isn't focused on how defenses may approach him after his breakout season in 2011. He understands that he must continue to do his job, regardless of how he is defended.

"This game is played as a team. We've got many great players around us, all the wide receivers, Aaron," he said. "Overall, it's everyone. The game is played as a team, and that's all that matters. You just got to go out there and just focus and do your job no matter what the defense is, no matter what the coverage is, you just got to go out there and do what you go to do to perform at your best."

In discussing the Titans' defense, both tight ends highlighted its speed.

"They got athletes, and they're fast," Gronkowski said. "Their defense, they're all fast players, and that's what you guys notice. The speed they have. You're not just going to be able to outrun any of them. You've got to just be prepared, doing your job. You've got to be at the position where you need to be at, and you've got to be doing what you're told by the coaches in order to have a good day versus them."

Added Hernandez, "They're a fast defense. They've got a lot of good players just like every other team in the league. We've just got to come out and worry about what we've got to do and make plays and I'm sure we'll be fine."