1 - Keys to spoiling Gronk's homecoming
Williamsville native and New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski, will return to his hometown for a matchup against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The Bills defense will have to be at their best to limit Gronkowski's production.
Buffalo's middle linebacker, Preston Brown, explained the keys to defending one of the NFL's best tight ends.
"Just try and stay between him and the ball," Brown said. "When you are matched up against him just try to get some pass break ups and no run after the catch. He always seems like he's dragging people down the field and people are jumping on his back and he's still running for 10 yards. No yards after the catch."
Sound tackling will prevent Gronkowski from getting in a groove. That's not a problem for Brown, as he's the team's leading tackler (92).
Gronkowski ranks second among TEs in receiving yards with 702. He's also tallied seven touchdowns this season, which is third in the league and the most among Patriots receivers.
Last season, Gronkowski was up and down against Buffalo. In the Bills Week Four win against the Patriots, he only had one reception for 11 yards. The team's 'D' shut down Gronkowski and shutout New England in the process as then rookie Jacoby Brissett had to make the start with Tom Brady suspended and Jimmy Garoppolo injured.
Later in the 2016 season, he had his way in Orchard Park. The Patriots prevailed in Week Eight by a score of 41-25. Gronkowski reeled in five receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
One player can't stop the 6-6, 265-pound TE. It's going to be a collective effort by Buffalo's defense to stop Gronkowski on Sunday.
"He does everything to get open. He has speed to get by people. He's just a good tight end," Brown said. "You have to find ways to slow him up anyway you can. Sometimes you have to double team him. Sometimes you have a safety over top. Anything you can do to slow him down because he's going to try and make plays, especially coming back home."
2 - Hyde eyeing his next INT**
It's been four games since Bills safety, Micah Hyde, hauled in an interception. After leading the league earlier in the season, he's anxious to pick off his next pass.
"Oh yeah for sure," Hyde said. "The one thing I've learned is you have to be patient. They come in bunches. You saw earlier in the year."
They certainly came in bunches for Buffalo's ball hawk. Hyde had five interceptions in the first seven games this season. He's had a four game stretch without an INT, but his five picks still ranks second in the NFL.
In his first year in Buffalo, Hyde's contributed much more than just forcing takeaways. His nine passes defended are tied for third in the league among safeties. He shares that spot with his sidekick, Jordan Poyer. Hyde also has 47 tackles, which is fifth on the team.
Across the board the fifth-year safety is having the best season of his career. He'll look to add his sixth INT on Sunday against the Patriots.
"I'm not getting frustrated," said Hyde. "I'm out there playing the best I can and hopefully one comes soon."
3 - Where Bills rank in Pro Bowl fan vote
It's that time of the year. With December upon us, Pro Bowl voting is well under way. A few Buffalo Bills players appear to be in the mix for the 2018 Pro Bowl.
The updated voting ranks the top 10 players at each position. For the Bills, Micah Hyde is second among safeties. Richie Incognito is seventh among guards. And LeSean McCoy is 10th among running backs.
Hyde is the leading vote-getter in the AFC at strong safety. Thus far, he's generated 61,548 votes. The first-year Bill has never been elected to a Pro Bowl.
The final rosters will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 19. It will be live on NFL Network at 8 PM.
Fan voting ends on Thursday, Dec. 14. Make sure to vote for your favorite Bills players to help send them to the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando.
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