Rob Gronkowski caught a touchdown pass in his return to game action last Sunday in Miami. It was one of four passes he snagged on the afternoon.
Problem was, he was targeted by QB Tom Brady 11 times in all – not a great success ratio.
"That obviously shows there's much room for improvement," Gronk told the media on Thursday. "I don't want to catch four balls when I had 11 thrown to me. It starts on the practice field. We've been working on getting the chemistry down with the wide receivers, timing with the quarterback.
"I just got to keep on improving, every single week. Keep going out there in practice, running around more, blocking, just overall improving. And whatever the coaches have for me, that's what I've got to do."
New England's star tight end didn't start the Dolphins game and was limited in the number of snaps he saw. He's been gradually increasing his workload all summer as he continues to return to full strength after sustaining a serious right knee injury last December.
Gronk said he felt in good conditioning coming off the field in Miami, that he was given "the perfect amount" of game reps. This week, though, he's prepared to see even more action against Minnesota.
"Yes, definitely. Whatever the game plan is, when I get my number called, I have to go out there and do my job and perform to the best of my ability," he stated.
Getting that knee back to full strength is his main injury focus at the moment, yet Gronkowski still wears a large brace on his left forearm, too – a remnant of his multiple surgeries on that limb in 2012 and '13.
He was asked how long he plans to continue wearing the contraption.
"Just a precaution thing. I'm used to it now. I don't know, I have to talk to the training staff. Right now, we're just seeing how everything goes."
Tackling the issue*
Against Miami, New England's defense missed a troubling number of tackles, allowing the Dolphins to gain a significant amount of extra yardage.
This week's opponent, the Vikings, feature an offense with multiple weapons – running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, tight end Kyle Rudolph chief among them.
Patterson in particular is getting raves for his Week 1 performance against St. Louis, during which he ran for a 67-yard touchdown.
"I'm a big fan," cornerback Darrelle Revis proclaimed. "Probably one of the most explosive players in the league. We have to know where he is at all times."
"Definitely one of the most dynamic players in the NFL – kickoff returns, scoring on a 67-yard toss play," echoed safety/co-captain Devin McCourty. "He can hurt you in a bunch of different ways. He can do everything on the field. Tough matchup.
"One of the biggest things is to tackle him. You see he's breaking a lot of tackles. You see running backs break a lot of tackles, and he does that as a wide receiver – runs through arm tackles, does it on kickoff returns. Everybody will probably get a chance at him at some point in the game."
For the second straight day, every player on the 53-man active roster was on the field at the start of practice. Wide receiver Julian Edelman, though, was seen getting some medical attention to his left foot or ankle. After a short time, he was back in the stretching line with the rest of his teammates.
Backup center Ryan Wendell (knee) was also on the field after being added to the injury report on Wednesday.