Photo: Defense Media Activity HawaiiBY NICK ST. DENIS
The New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints are putting on a tight end clinic this week.
New England is hosting New Orleans for joint practices for the two days leading up to the teams' preseason meeting Thursday. So some of the league's best tight ends are on display on one practice field, with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez taking reps for the Patriots and Jimmy Graham donning a Saints uniform.
In being the best at what they do, the three are often subjects of comparison, and each player did plenty of assessing of one another Tuesday when addressing the media.
But while Gronkowski and Graham were very complimentary of one another's playing ability, each have their own preference for a post-score celebration. Gronkowski goes with his incredibly powerful spike, while Graham prefers to dunk the ball through the uprights.
"His spikes are pretty good. He has some velocity on them," Graham said of Gronkowski. "I'd rather dunk it anyday."
Graham, a former basketball standout, says he's been dunking ever since he started playing football.
Aside from Graham's brief analysis of Gronkowski's spikes, the 25-year-old Saint discussed what both Gronk and Hernandez bring offensively.
"Gronkowski in the red zone, the way he uses his body and size, me and him are a similar size," Graham said. "Hernandez, the way he runs his routes. He's a technician in his routes. He really gets guys off balance with some quick false movements. Those are some things I'm trying to add to my game."
Gronkowski had similar praise for Graham: "His speed, his separation definitely, he's good at the long ball, how he goes up and grabs it in the air. He used to be a basketball player, so it’s kind of cool to see him go up. He grabs the ball at the highest point and that’s something you always want to do when the ball is coming at you."