Ben Coates appreciates complete work of Rob Gronkowski

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Saturday, July 7 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Ben Coates being voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, becoming the first tight end to gain entry. He currently remains the only player at the position in the team's Hall.

But Coates made one thing clear when we caught up last week: He is expecting company soon from Rob Gronkowski and he welcomes it, even as Gronkowski (474) is on the cusp of breaking Coates' franchise record for career regular-season receptions by a tight end (490).cheap authentic nfl jerseys

"I watch him a lot. Every decade or every other decade, you get a player like that. It's been amazing to see some of the stuff he does, and continues to do," Coates said from his North Carolina home.

"He kind of reminds me of myself the way he breaks tackles, but he's much bigger than me (6-7, 265 vs. 6-5, 245), much stronger than me. Just to watch him, the way he catches the ball, he's very aggressive. He's not the type that is going to lay down. He becomes like a defender when he gets the ball -- he runs over people. He's trying to knock people out before they knock him out."

Coates, whose rapport with quarterback Drew Bledsoe played a major role in the Patriots' rise from NFL doormat to playoff contender in the mid-1990s, had a similar playing style that helped him earn five Pro Bowl berths and first-team All-Pro honors twice. He also was selected to the NFL 1990s All Decade Team. Like Gronkowski, he wore No. 87.

But as the 48-year-old watches today's NFL game, he doesn't see many tight ends like that, which is an area he also took pride in.3

"Rob is a complete tight end. He can run block, get vertical, catch the ball. There aren't many that can run block the defensive end by himself or pass-block a very good linebacker like Von Miller," he said, noting that he's never actually met Gronkowski. "I didn't want to just catch passes. We had guys like Shannon [Sharpe] and other people in the league that were going to be pass-catching tight ends, but [my question was], 'When are we going to start looking at the complete tight end?'"

As for who the best-ever "complete" tight end might be, Coates said that will always be up for debate because of how the game has changed from era to nike nfl jerseys china

But there is no debating Gronkowski's value to the Patriots, or that Coates' franchise record of 19 years is about to be surpassed.

"It's not [bittersweet] because records are made to be broken. He's a phenomenal tight end and he's wearing the number, and I'm happy to see that number is still pretty big in New England," Coates said. "Just make sure he takes care of himself. They are totally different when he's not in the game."

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