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Helmets Off: Dan Gronkowski

Posted Nov 3, 2010

Dan Gronkowski sits down with DenverBroncos.com to discuss the first half of the 2010 season in this week's edition of 'Helmets Off.'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Dan Gronkowski has grabbed national headlines as one of three brothers currently on NFL rosters -- the first time that's happened in more than 15 years.

But the second-year player out of Maryland has quietly made a name for himself in the Broncos offense, emerging as the team's second tight end since being acquired via trade from Detroit on Sept. 4.

Gronkowski, who also filled in at fullback when Spencer Larsen was injured, produced his best game as a pro in Sunday's loss to San Francisco in London when he finished with three catches for 29 yards -- both career highs.

Before he headed home to rest on the team's bye week, Gronkowski sat down with DenverBroncos.com to discuss his two months as a Bronco and look ahead at the season's final eight games.

How does your individual performance on Sunday give you confidence going into the second half of the season?

"It's good to get in there, running around a little and being the main reads on some routes. The coaches are starting to throw me in there in more of those situations as I get more comfortable in the offense. It just builds my confidence, and hopefully in the second half of the year, I get a lot more balls coming to me."

How was your London experience?

"The trip was fun. We didn't have too much time over there. Friday night was really the only time we got to walk around the city and see the sights. It was a lot of fun in London. It almost felt like a college bowl trip, but it was really serious also. We were there to play football. Everyone was staying focused. It's just not good that we didn't win."

What was the coolest thing you saw?

"Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. Just the architecture on both those buildings was incredible. There were a lot of cool churches also."

Is this a good time for the bye week?

"I don't know how many teams have their bye weeks left, but this seems pretty late. You have to appreciate any time you have a bye week where you can just forget football for a few days and go hang out with your family and friends and get back home. We don't get much time to do that during the season. It's good to do that and really go back and rejuvenate and come back and finish the season off strong."

What are your plans for that time?

"I'm just going to go back home to Buffalo and see my family and my youngest brother and just hang out there."

Since the trade to Denver two months ago, how has the transition been?

"It's really been the craziest, mentally-tough time in my life, really. Just knowing everything in Detroit -- the city, teammates, friends, knowing the offense -- and transitioning in one day to not knowing anything, it's really tough. I had to put a lot of time into it. My two months here have been all football. Even when I go home, I'm always thinking about it or studying. It's a lot of work, but it's what professionals have to do."

What's the biggest thing you've taken from working with Daniel Graham in your position group?

"He's been in this offense so much -- here and in New England -- that he's just given me so many pointers. It's little things, the insides and outs of this offense. That's what he's really helped me with."

After playing just two games with the Lions last season, why do you think you've been able to take the next step with this team this year?

"In Detroit, we had a lot of good tight ends there. I was kind of stuck behind them. I did really well in preseason. Denver saw that, and they're giving me an opportunity here, and I'm working hard. I'm just going to keep on working, and hopefully soon I'll have this whole offense down pat and be flying around out here."

As you were going through preseason was it in your mind that you were auditioning for other teams?

"It was definitely in my mind. I had no idea what was going to happen. I just went out there every week and was just focused on doing my best and not anything else. It paid off. It was a crazy Saturday when I got traded. I just flew out here that day and here I am."

Has it surprised you how much people have latched onto the story of the Gronkowski brothers?

"We really like the story, too. We're all athletes, and we're best friends. We try to get our name out there. We have a lot of fun with it. It's a unique situation that people do enjoy."

Both Chris (a Cowboys fullback) and Rob (a Patriots tight end) have scored touchdowns this season, so you're the only brother who hasn't found the end zone yet. Do they remind you of that?

"I almost had one two weeks ago against Oakland, and it got tipped at the line of scrimmage when he was throwing it to me in the back of the end zone. That was disappointing, but hopefully, there's one in the near future."

Your youngest brother, Glenn, is deciding where to play his college football. How involved are you in that process?

"He's got a few good offers, so he's going to start looking at those now. He dominated this year. It was ridiculous. He had 15 touchdowns in eight games. The kid is a beast. Any decision he makes, he's got a good opportunity. Hopefully, I can stick around long enough for him to make it to the next level, and he can be on my team or something."

You started your college career as a quarterback. Are you hoping for a chance to show off your arm?

"I don't know if any of the coaches know that I was a quarterback coming out of high school and early in college, but there's no trick passes for me -- no flea-flickers back to me or anything. Who knows? It might happen in this offense."

After dealing with winters in upstate New York growing up, are you excited for your first Colorado winter?

"No. When you're a kid, you like the cold weather. But once you start getting older, it's not too much fun, especially when the snow slows you down. I enjoy warmer weather now. I do like Colorado weather and what just the city in general has offered so far."

If you weren't in the NFL, what would you be doing right now?

"I'd probably be in some sports-oriented business. My dad owns a bunch of fitness retail stores, so something probably along those lines. I'd definitely be a business man."

Lastly, as you head into the second half of the season, what are your goals and expectations for the last eight games?

"Our record isn't very good right now, but everyone is still fighting hard and no one has given up. We just have to keep on improving. Every week we're looking at what we can do better. Everyone is just going to go out there and fight. You can expect that from us. Hopefully, we turn this around and get on a winning streak."