NFL notebook: Patriots confirm concussion for Gronkowski

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was listed with a concussion on the team's first injury report ahead of next week's Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The injury report released Wednesday was the first time the Patriots have acknowledged that Gronkowski sustained a concussion in Sunday's 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship.

Gronkowski missed the second half against Jacksonville after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church in the second quarter. Gronkowski was wobbly as he got to his feet.

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick sidestepped questions about Gronkowski's potential availability for Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

--The NFL concluded that the Carolina Panthers acted properly when they gave quarterback Cam Newton a brief sideline concussion evaluation during their playoff loss against the New Orleans Saints.

The league and NFL Players Association completed their joint investigation into the team's handling of the concussion protocol involving Newton.

"Mr. Newton was properly evaluated for a concussion in the sideline medical tent and did not sustain a concussion," the league said as part of a lengthy statement released Wednesday.

--Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr wants new coach Jon Gruden to be "really hard" on him after he regressed this season from his level in 2016.

Carr said he is looking forward not only to being reunited with Gruden but also to being pushed by the quarterback guru. His production dropped off in 2017 as he passed for 3,496 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

"I want him to be really hard on me because I want to win," Carr told ESPN at a Pro Bowl practice in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday. "He can pat me on the back and tell me he loves me, which he does, and he will. But at the same time, I want him to be hard on me and let's talk about, 'Hey, if we grade out at 90 percent, let's talk about the 10 percent I didn't do well.'"

--The New York Giants are planning to hire James Bettcher to be their defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports.

Newly named head coach Pat Shurmur and the Giants agreed to hire the former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator late Tuesday night, a source told ESPN. Bettcher met with the Giants in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday afternoon while he was in town for the Senior Bowl.

Bettcher, 39, guided a Cardinals defense that ranked sixth in total yards per game in 2017 season but 19th in scoring allowed. He wasn't retained by new Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, who was hired Monday.

--Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman was scheduled to undergo surgery to have a brain tumor removed Wednesday in Atlanta, according to reports.

Doleman, 56, was a star defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings for 10 seasons and also played for the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers in a career that ran from 1985 to 1999.

Doleman was the NFL's sacks leader in 1989 and finished his career with 150 1/2 sacks along with eight interceptions and three career defensive touchdowns. He still plans to attend Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

--Belichick agrees with defensive end Chris Long's decision to join the Eagles after the veteran won a Super Bowl last year in his only season with New England.

"I think his defensive role is similar to what it was when he was with the Rams," Belichick said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. "Chris has a lot of good skills. His overall skill set and experience is definitely more in the system that he's in than it was in our system."

With the Eagles, Long finished the regular season with 28 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles compared to last year when he had 35 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble with the Patriots.

--Field Level Media

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