Rob Gronkowski gets to play in this year’s Super Bowl after missing last year’s game with a bad back. Zach Ertz gets the chance to match his wife Authentic Kirk Cousins Jersey , Julie , a soccer star who’s already won a world championship.
Super Bowl 52 could come down to which of these terrific tight ends shines brighter.
The two had similar statistics and impact on their team’s fortunes this season.
Gronkowski led the New England Patriots with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ertz led the Philadelphia Eagles with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight TDs – double his previous career best.
Ertz also has 11 grabs for 125 yards in the playoffs and Gronkowski has seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs despite missing most of the AFC championship against Jacksonville after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Barry Church before halftime.
That led to concerns Gronkowski might miss his second straight Super Bowl. He was sidelined for last year’s 34-28 overtime win against Atlanta after undergoing back surgery.
Gronk, however, returned to practice Thursday and said he is ”ready to roll” after clearing the concussion protocol.
He said he never doubted he’d get to play Sunday.
”There was no reason to get frustrated,” Gronkowski said. ”We had that extra week, which was awesome.”
The return of the All-Pro tight end gives Tom Brady another key option against a punishing Eagles defense that ranked fourth in the league.
”He’s a dynamic player. He means a ton to our offense. He really has since he got to our team. It’s always great when he’s out there,” Brady said.
”I’ve played with him a long time, I’ve thrown him a lot of footballs. He knows exactly what to do, he knows where to expect the ball, when to expect it. He’s just a tremendous player for our team.”
Ertz is just as important to Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense.
The fifth-year pro made his first Pro Bowl this season, leading all NFC tight ends in receptions. He added eight catches for 93 yards in the NFC championship game against Minnesota.
Despite his breakout season and postseason, Ertz knows he won’t be the best tight end on the field Sunday. Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends in receiving yards for the fourth time.
Gronk is the gold standard.
”He’s a beast after the catch, I think that kind of separates him from all the other tight ends,” Ertz said. ”And he’s also able to be open even when he’s not open because he’s got such a big frame and extremely good ball skills. And obviously Tom Brady is a phenomenal quarterback, too, but even without Tom, I think he would still be doing the same type of things regardless of where he was.”
Ertz knows the numbers off the top of his head, too.
”He has all the (single season) tight end records in the league Kirk Cousins Jersey Big ,” Ertz said. He’s got the yards – 1,327 – and he’s got the touchdowns – 17 – he’s just a phenomenal player.”
With a pair of Super Bowl rings.
That’s what Ertz really covets, a world championship like the one his wife won in 2015 as a midfielder for the World Cup-winning U.S. national soccer team.
”Julie won a World Cup two years ago,” Ertz said, ”so I need to hold up my end of the bargain.”
The ”It” couple in the NFL was married last March after a romance that started when Julie, then Julie Johnston, was an emerging soccer star at Santa Clara and Zach was playing at Stanford.
The two were apart when the Eagles clinched their spot in the Super Bowl with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Julie was in San Diego for a national team match against Denmark. She was among the players who scored in the 5-1 victory.
Afterward, when she was told Zach was going to the Super Bowl, she burst into tears .
”Zach knew I was there obviously in spirit and I was praying for him and I was excited for him and cheering him from miles away,” she said.
”It’s a part of our job and we sacrifice a lot, and time’s the biggest thing. But to find out that they are going to the Super Bowl was amazing, exciting, emotional. It’s really cool to see your loved one’s hard work pay off.”
Ertz said it was hard for him watching other players’ celebrate with their wives ”but seeing that video kind of showed me that she was struggling not being there, too.
”And it was extremely difficult for us not being together like it is anytime we’re not together. But she’s here now, I’m lucky she’s here. I’m blessed that she’s here and I’m excited hopefully to be able to experience that again.”
PHOENIX — The San Francisco Giants extended their best month in exactly two years with a victory at Arizona on Friday, given a huge boost by rookie outfielder Austin Slater and left-hander Andrew Suarez.
At 17-10, the Giants are having their first winning month since June 2016, and with a victory in the second game of the three-game series Saturday, they will have one more victory than they had that June.
Slater had three hits Authentic Harrison Smith Jersey , including two RBI doubles, in a Giants 2-1 victory on Friday, his sixth day back on his fourth recall from Triple-A Sacramento this season. Suarez gave up one run in six innings and ran his streak to 13 starts without walking more than two.
“He really has that composure out there,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of Suarez. “He’s got some savvy out there. He knows when to make his pitches. He knows when to be careful, too.”
The Diamondbacks will send right-hander Shelby Miller (0-1, 12.27 ERA) to the mound Saturday for his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery in an attempt so salvage another series win.
The D-backs are 5-0-1 in their last six series since losing two of three at San Francisco from June 4-6. Giants rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (2-1, 3.82) will make his sixth start of the season on Saturday. Rodriguez has never faced Arizona, but he allowed just one run and four hits over seven innings in his most recent start, on Sunday against San Diego. He did not get a decision but the Giants won the game 3-2.
Miller, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, made his first start of the season in Miami on Monday, when he gave up six hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings while reaching 95-96 mph on the radar gun.
“The fastball command was outstanding,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “I know he is working on his secondary stuff. That’s to be expected. Knowing that he has taken a 15-month journey to get to this point, it’s not going to be a perfect science right away. The secondary pitches are feel pitches, and I know that he is working hard. Landing the second stuff is something that we are hoping to see. We know we see it in bullpens and at different tunes. I know that Shelby is going to be ready for that challenge.”
Miller, the key return in the trade that sent Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson to Atlanta at the 2015 winter meetings, used words of encouragement from Patrick Corbin and the Arizona training staff to get through rehab. Corbin underwent Tommy John in the spring of 2014 season and missed the whole year.
“I talked to Corbin a lot,” Miller said. “The guys in the training room, day in and day out they were giving me reassurance. What to expect. I leaned on them and relied on them a lot. They were big. I am definitely feeling good.”
Miller admitted to feeling some nerves before the Miami start.
“For sure Harrison Smith Jersey Big ,” he said. “It is different than any other game. It is a big day. I had some minor league rehab starts, but those don’t even compare to the games that are mattering up here. I definitely had some jitters.”
Miller is 2-5 with a 3.51 ERA in nine career starts against the Giants.
Slater has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League in his time between stints in San Francisco. He is slashing .344/.417/.564 with 24 doubles and five homers in 53 games with the River Cats. His 24 doubles were second in the league, and his batting average was sixth when was promoted again last Saturday.
With third baseman Evan Longoria expected to miss at least another month, manager Bruce Bochy mentioned the possibility of giving Slater more time, especially against left-handed pitchers.
Slater is hitting at least .300 against righties and lefties in Sacramento this season, and during his short stay wth the Giants before a leg injury in 2017 hit .333 in 38 plate appearances against lefties.
“We’re missing a right-handed bat, and he could provide that,” Bochy said. “Not that other guys can’t, but you look at what he did tonight and what he’s been doing. He’s going to help stretch out this lineup and us some added offense, which we need against lefties.”
Even with veterans in the outfield, “You have to go with the guys who are swinging the bat well,” Bochy said. “They dictate their lineup.”
Slater has made three starts since being recalled the most recent time Saturday.
“The first couple of times up and down, it is easy to lose focus,” Slater said. “But for me it was try to prove a point that it wasn’t a fluke, that I was here to stay.”