Chris Gronkowski thought his first snaps as Peyton Manning’s fullback were imminent when he signed with the Colts in 2011. But due to Manning’s well-documented health issues during his final season in Indianapolis, Chris’ first snaps in the same backfield as No. 18 came last week, after the Broncos dealt cornerback Cassius Vaughn to Indy in exchange for the middle Gronkowski brother.
“When I went into Indy last year, I was kind of shocked by it,” Gronkowski said. “I haven’t gotten to play with Peyton yet because once I got to Indy, he was already out. I know he always wanted a fullback, that’s what they told me when I got to Indy. I hope I do what he expects.”
“This is my first time on the field with him and so far it’s been great. He’s making sure everyone’s doing the right thing.”
Naturally, one of the first people Chris heard from after hearing he was Denver-bound was his older brother Dan, who spent the 2010 season in Denver.
“I was at practice [when I heard I had been traded to Denver],” Chris said. “It was right after practice and [Colts General Manager Ryan] Grigson came up to me and told me he had good news for me.”
“My brother Dan had a lot to say,” he continued. “He was the first one to call me. I made sure I talked to him right away. He told me loved it here and that it was a great place, that he was sad that he was gone.”
As for making a name for himself as one of three brothers playing in the NFL, Chris said he’d rather focus on enjoying the ride and earning a reputation of his own.
“I’m right in between Rob and Dan,” Gronkowski said. “Dan’s real conservative and quiet. He stays to himself and doesn’t really go out to the media and go crazy like my younger brother Rob. I like to have fun too, but I just don’t go to the level that Rob goes to. It’s cool. It’s more about my brother Rob, but it feels good to get my name thrown in there too every once in a while. We’re just having fun with it. Having three brothers in the league has been real fun for the whole family, and we’re just trying to keep it going.”
O-LINE BUILDING CHEMISTRY
Dating back to his sophomore season at Boise State, Offensive Tackle Ryan Clady has missed just two games over the past seven seasons. At a position as rigorous as offensive tackle, Clady finds offseason OTAs beneficial for a number of reasons.
He believes that every second the offensive line is able to spend together provides a valuable opportunity to work on the unit’s chemistry.
“Yeah, I think OTAs definitely help out, especially younger guys,” Clady said. “I had OTAs my rookie year and it definitely helped me out a lot. I would’ve been lost come training camp without one. So OTAs definitely help out for younger guys.”
“There’s chemistry coming along, just getting used to the offense. Remembering things and what not.”
In addition to Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu, Broncos linemen also are taking advantage of the insight of guard Chris Kuper, who has become a bit of a player-coach throughout an offseason he has spent rehabilitating from an injury he sustained during the final regular season game of 2011.
“I’ve seen him on and off the whole offseason,” Clady said. “He’s definitely progressing, starting to jog now, stuff like that. It’s nice to see him. Hopefully he’ll be ready for training camp.”
“We call him ‘Coach Kuper’ right now,” Clady smiled. “He’s coaching up the young guys for the most part and just watching.”