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Rob Gronkowski ready for 'epic' return to New England to face Patriots in Week 4

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' visit to New England in Week 4 has been billed as Tom Brady's return to Foxborough. He's not the only former Patriots player making the trip.

Rob Gronkowski is also headed to his homecoming with his former team.

"That's going to be crazy. It's going to be pretty epic," Gronk told Casey Phillips of the Bucs official team website. "It's definitely going to be emotional for sure, I would say. I just had a great nine years (in New England). Probably the best nine years of my life. It was the beginning of basically my whole football career there. It's definitely going to be heartfelt when I go back. And I've just got to be prepared for that game. I've got to be prepared for every game, but especially that one. It's never going to be easy. It's going to be tough. It's going to be a good one. It's going to be different."

Gronk built his Hall of Fame career in New England, compiling 7,861 yards and 79 TDs on 566 catches in nine seasons. He owns the team record for TDs, ranks second in Pats franchise history in yards (tops for a TE) and is fifth in receptions.

The 32-year-old won three Super Bowls in New England before taking a year off. Gronk then rejoined Brady in Tampa Bay in 2020, where he helped the Bucs hoist another Lombardi Trophy.

Gronk told Phillips that the situation in Tampa is different from his previous Super Bowl wins in New England. The Bucs are returning all 22 starters from their championship team and most of their reserves as well.

"That just shows how excited everyone was to win the Super Bowl and how much excitement is around this organization," Gronk said of the return of the bulk of the squad. "It's just going to be thrilling just to keep on building our team."

As others have noted, Gronk said the offense in Tampa didn't start to click until midway through last season. In that context, the Bucs expect to continue to roll into 2021 with everyone returning.

"It's nice now that we have a year under our belt," he said. "I felt like our offense started clicking more at the end of the year. We all started to get the feel of each other. The chemistry was building up throughout the year. But it's going to be great. We got everyone back on the offensive side of the ball -- defensive side of the ball too, which is incredible. But we can just keep building. We can keep stacking days. We can keep getting better just as a unit. But we've got to put the work in. We know that it's not easy to do that. But we know that if we put the work in, we keep stacking days, we can keep improving week in and week out."

One of those weeks includes a trip to Foxborough, where Gronk will return for the first time as a foe.

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