Q: What is your reaction to the news of Rob Gronkowski needing surgery?
TB: Yeah, that was tough news to hear for everybody because he's such a big part of our team and what we do; his enthusiasm and energy for the game and what he means to us on the field because he's such a great player, and the kind of leader he is off the field and in the locker room. So it's a tough loss but we've still got a big challenge ahead and we're going to try to do the best we can do. We've still got a lot of good players and we're going to be focused on what our job is. This week we've got a big test playing the Rams with their defense and what they can do, so everyone is going to have to step their game up.
Q: As a teammate and a friend having seen all that Rob Gronkowski has gone through injury-wise, can you speak emotionally to how this affects you and all the other guys in the locker room?
TB: Yeah, he's been through a lot over the years and he always comes back strong with a great attitude and a great mindset so I think that's what everybody expects from him. He's a great guy, he's a great teammate, he's a great friend. He's a tough guy so he always battles back and we'll keep battling without him. We've got a lot of tough guys in the locker room still, and we'll see what we can make of this season. We were brought to a good start and we've got to keep it going. This is the time of year when we need to play our best football.
Q: Is that one of the most important messages in the locker room - Rob Gronkowski is a great guy and a great player but you still have a game to play on Sunday?
TB: Yeah, it doesn't stop for anybody. The games keep being played and they keep going. I've learned that lesson a few times in my career. When you're out there, you've got to appreciate it, and when you're not, you do everything you can to get back. For the guys that have the opportunity to go out there and play this week, they're fortunate to go play the game. You do it with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm because you don't know what next week is going to bring. We have to go out there and play and just have a great game. It's a good time of year to start playing our best football.
Q: How fortunate do you feel to be out there on a week the 2001 team is being recognized and you have the opportunity to hit a career milestone?
TB: Yeah, to still be able to do it, I would never have imagined that. It's a great opportunity this week for us and it will be nice to see all of those guys back here from that team. That was a long time ago. I know it's a big celebration for everybody but we still have a job to do, the guys who are playing. We'll be focused and ready to go.
Q: Can you guys replace Rob Gronkowski or do you just have to figure out a way to get by without him?
TB: He's a tough player - there are no guys like Rob [Gronkowski] just on the street, so it's hard to just sub one guy for one guy. Other guys will just have to play - when he comes out of the lineup, someone else has to step in and fill that spot. It may not be a tight end spot but it may be another receiver, another running back, it could be a tight end. It's just got to be determined on what the play is. We still have to go out and execute the plays well. There are 70 of them in the game and you've got to execute all 70 as well as you possibly can. The better players you have, the more consistent, dependent players you have, the more you can do that on a consistent basis. There are going to be a lot of guys trying to do that.
Q: How much does the fact that your personnel is so varied and that you've had experience playing without Rob Gronkowski in the past help you deal with everything as a quarterback?
TB: Yeah, we've had some experience I think this year being without [Rob Gronkowski] and dealing with being light at receiver, light at tight end, light at running back. It's not something that you want to deal with, but at some point in the year, based on how long the season is, you're always going to deal with something. Different guys are going to be counted on at different times to do different things, so like I said, it's tough to replace - just swap Gronk out for somebody else, but the other guys who are going to fill that fifth skill spot are going to have to do a great job, whoever that is. It will be different on a play-to-play basis, but we're just going to have to go out there and execute at a very high level.
*Q: How confident are you in this team moving on without Rob Gronkowski? *
TB: I mean, I think we all have confidence that we can go out and win games, no doubt. We'd all love to have him out there but he's not, and we still feel like we can go out and win a lot of games.