Given the heart palpitations caused by such collisions, Pats fans got worked up this week when Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. described hitting Gronk low, at the knees, as the best way to take down the 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end.
"It's part of the game. I've been seeing it all year," Gronkowski said of low hits, via the team's official website. "I've been seeing it my whole career. I've just got to get low, get my shoulder down, protect the ball, just protect myself in any way when I see a lot of guys coming or when I know there's not a chance to make that many yards, possibly just go down on that play, but if you can make a play then try and make a play, get more yards, but at the same time I've just got to watch it, get your pads down. It's football, so you've got to be ready for contact at all times."
In the Pats' Week 12 loss to the Broncos, Gronkowski exited in the fourth quarter with a knee injury after his leg whipped back on a low hit by a defender. The injury caused him to miss the following contest and influenced his play down the stretch. Gronk was officially listed as limited in Thursday's practice with knee/back injuries.
With the NFL placing emphasis on defenders not hitting at the head/neck level, many players, especially smaller defensive backs, have gone low to attempt to bring down behemoths -- that's not to suggest taking out the knees is a new philosophy, it's as old as football.
Gronk added that he plans on dishing out as much punishment as he receives.
"Everyone wants to see collisions, so I'm ready to give some," he said.