7 reasons Rob Gronkowski is effective

All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski practiced on Thursday for the Patriots.

He missed last Sunday's loss to Philadelphia after suffering a knee injury the previous week at Denver. When the Texans met with the media on Thursday, many were asked about the prolific pass-catcher, who's already pulled in 63 touchdown catches in 76 career games since 2010.

"We're preparing probably for him to play," linebacker Brian Cushing said "If he does, he does, if he doesn't, we'll definitely just take some of those adjustments out, but we'll definitely know that we have other options as well."

Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said a formidable New England offense quarterbacked by Tom Brady is only improved if Gronkowski is active and able to play.

"It's more dangerous," Clowney said. "Gronk is a big target. They want to get the ball to him. He can

line up against anybody. Corners and safeties are too short to guard him. Linebackers are too slow to guard him."

For head coach Bill O'Brien, a Patriots assistant in Gronkowski's first two NFL seasons, the tight end has a "big impact" on the game. O'Brien reeled off a list of attributes and reasons the 3-time All-Pro is one of the premier targets in the NFL.

  1. "Big,"
  1. "athletic,"
  1. "tough,"
  1. "great catch radius,"
  1. "great hands,"
  1. "instinctive player
  1. "able to pick up the game and learn the game."

The Houston Texans roster in photos.

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