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Harrison, Bruschi discuss Gronkowski's 'good to go' declaration

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This didn't happen when Rodney Harrison was among the leadership in New England. Back then, the rules were followed to the last letter. Meaning players didn't talk about injuries and certainly didn't take it upon themselves to broadcast their status for an upcoming game to the media a full six days before kickoff.

It just didn't work like that.

And that's why the former Patriots captain and current NBC analyst was, like many, caught off guard when he heard that New England tight end Rob Gronkowski walked to his locker at Gillette Stadium on Monday and declared himself "good to go" in the regular season opener on Sunday in Miami.

Gronkowski has missed the entire preseason as he works back from a torn ACL suffered last December. While the reported plan was indeed for Gronkowski to play in Week 1, the Pro Bowl tight end's personal declaration of his own game status didn't sit seem to sit well with Harrison.

"It's one of those things, when you enable a player, when you give him the type of money they paid him after two or three years of playing, then you give him the power. He's been able to kind of do whatever he wants to do, and there hasn't been a lot of backlash or ramifications. So he feels like, hey, he can pretty much get away with anything," Harrison told WEEI radio on Tuesday. "But at the same time, I think he's probably tired of everywhere he goes to the store, everywhere he goes to the mall, people asking him, 'Hey, are you going to play? What the status?' Maybe he just called them up and said, 'Hey, this is my last and final statement about my injury. I want to just make this statement and move past it.'

"But in that situation, being in that locker room, that's one of the things you just can't do. It's really not up to the media. Your job as a player is to get healthy, and when you're called upon to get on that field and perform, that's what you're supposed to do. And that's one of the things that guys in our locker room have never done. Christian Fauria, he knows about that. We didn't call attention to ourselves. It wasn't about us, it was always about the team. So it will be pretty interesting what happens."

Another former Patriots team captain, current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi saw Gronkowski's announcement more of simple excitement boiling over with a passionate player.

"Just put yourself in Rob's shoes," Bruschi said, also on WEEI. "You spend an entire offseason rehabbing and answering questions and putting it off. You have the little line, 'I'm just working better to get better every day, day by day, day by day, every day.' Finally you're getting to the point where you start to see him out there in practice. He starts to work. Players, they want to say it. They want to say, 'I'm ready. I'm good to go. Put me in coach, I'm ready to play.' Whatever it is, they want to say that. It's hard to contain, and that excitement in terms of who Rob Gronkowski is. I was the same type of player. You get excited even when you are talking about football and football is on your mind. You say, 'I'm ready to play.' It puts a little bit more pressure on the coaching staff. But I think Gronk is right in terms of what he says. He's ready to go. He wants to play. He wants to take a load, whatever they want to put on him. He'll take it, he'll play and he'll play well."

Bill Belichick didn't seem overly concerned with Gronkowski's proclamation when he was asked about his tight end's status in a Tuesday conference call, although he did say that the team wouldn't make a decision on the star pass catcher's status until later in the week.

Beyond questioning Gronkowski's personal health update, Harrison had other strong take about the tight end. Having come back from his own ACL injury, and following a career as a physical defender with a questionable reputation over the course of his career, Harrison said that Gronkowski needs to know what he's in store for when he does return to game action.

"I'll tell you this: Coming off an ACL injury before, I know guys will specifically go at his knees," Harrison said. "He needs to be very careful, because he's a big, big target coming across that middle. And those smaller safeties and defensive backs, they're not going to hit him up in the chest, they're going to be aiming at that knee."

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