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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared from the concussion protocol and will play in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Gronkowski participated fully in practice on Thursday. Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise also practiced after being cleared from the concussion protocol. Malcolm Butler (illness) and Brandon King (knee) also participated in the workout.
Gronk said he is ”ready to roll” and has no limitations. He had been sidelined since taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jacksonville’s Barry Church in the first half of New England’s AFC championship game win.
The All-Pro tight end missed last year’s Super Bowl win over Atlanta after undergoing back surgery.
Gronkowski said he believes that the team doctors were just using the bye week to be as cautious with the injury as possible.
”We knew the whole time I was gonna be good to go [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-miles-killebrew-jersey]Miles Killebrew Jersey[/url] ,” he said. ”I was progressing really good throughout the week. We just knew I’d be ready and we’ve been practicing like we always do.”
Gronkowski led the team in receiving during the regular season with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.
His return gives quarterback Tom Brady another key option against an Eagles defense that finished the regular season ranked fourth in the NFL in defense.
Philadelphia is giving up 229 yards per game through the air in the playoffs. New England comes in averaging 318 yards passing during the postseason.
”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.”
In addition to Gronk’s return to practice, the Patriots also got a visit from former defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who won Super Bowls with New England during the 2004 and 2014 seasons.
Gronkowski said it was always nice to have ”a great teammate” such as Wilfork around, but declined to say what words of motivation he offered the team.
”What he said was definitely inspiring – to just cherish the moment,” Gronkowski said. ”But other than that [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/randall-cobb-jersey]Randall Cobb Jersey[/url] , it was good for our team. And I’ll just keep it at that.”
WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals will go for their third straight win over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night behind ace Max Scherzer.
After a team meeting on Wednesday, the Nationals (44-43) have posted back-to-back emotional victories over the Marlins (36-54). On Thursday, it was an historic comeback from a 9-0 deficit for a 14-12 win and Friday was a walk-off homer from pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.
“We’re all human, so having a walk-off win everyone’s in a little better mood coming to the ballpark the next day, have a little more giddy up,” outfielder Adam Eaton said.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez admitted he was looking for someone to end Friday’s game with one swing.
“Thought about pinch-hitting Michael (A. Taylor). He gets on, he can steal, but then what?” Martinez said. “So I said, ‘Hey, we need somebody who can hit a home run right now and Mark is the perfect guy.'”
Reynolds’ homer on a 3-1 pitch off Kyle Barraclough erased the bad taste of Washington’s not scoring with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth and rewarded the work of a bullpen that provided four scoreless innings.
The Marlins had all kinds of chances against Gio Gonzalez [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-t.j.-jones-jersey]T.J. Jones Jersey[/url] , who threw 114 pitches in five innings, but the Nationals turned three double plays and Gonzalez struck out Justin Bour and Garrett Cooper with the bases loaded in the fifth after walking in the tying run.
“I thought our offense did a pretty good job with Gio,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We just didn’t really capitalize.”
Scherzer (10-5, 2.16) is looking for his first win since June 5. A loser in four of his last five starts, he has allowed only 10 earned runs while the Nationals have been shut out three times.
In a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Monday night, Scherzer’s only mistake came on a bases-loaded double by friend and former Detroit rotation mate Rick Porcello.
“That’s where you’ve got to be better, no matter what,” Scherzer told mlb.com. “You’ve got to execute pitches against everybody. Just because it’s a pitcher doesn’t mean you can ever let up. Not saying I did, but the onus, the focus is on every single pitch. You’ve got to execute.”
Scherzer went six innings and struck out nine to become the 11th pitcher in MLB history with at least 1 [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/troy-apke-jersey]Authentic Troy Apke Jersey[/url] ,000 strikeouts with two clubs. He leads the National League with 174 strikeouts.
He’s 8-3 with a 3.39 ERA versus the Marlins in his career.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 5.55) starts for the Marlins and has a 9.85 ERA in seven road starts this season.
Chen’s last two outings have been very good. He hass thrown 12 innings — six each against the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks — and allowed one earned and eight hits while striking out 10 and walking one. He allowed one unearned run in no-decision against the Rays his last time out.
“I think it was the life on my fastball,” Chen told mlb.com, via his interpreter, on what was working against Tampa Bay. “Tonight, sometimes I didn’t get my fastball to an ideal location, but I was still able to jam them, get them to get weak contact.”
Against Washington, Chen is 1-5 with a 4.15 ERA in nine career appearances.
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