Found June 19, 2013 on Optimum Scouting:

There's no question that when Rob Gronkowski is healthy, he's the best tight end in the league. Unfortunately for New England, that qualifier is becoming more and more of a problem for the uniquely talented play maker. Now that he's undergone yet another surgery this offseason, the Patriots must be considering what to do without him in the lineup, at least for the beginning of the season.

Initially, the solution would have included a heavy dose of Aaron Hernandez. But now that he's reportedly being uncooperative with police in regards to a murder of an “associate”, New England would be wise to start making plans on what they'd in the case that they're without their top two tight ends for at least a portion of the 2013 season.

In the case of Gronkowski, there's serious concern that he's becoming as unreliable as he in talented. He's had four surgeries on his forearm, which he broke last season while blocking for an extra point attempt. He now appears to be having success against the infection he's been battling there, but now there is growing concerned about his back. The surgery he had most recently is likely going to keep him out for most of training camp, and potentially could land him on the PUP list to start the year.

Even if Gronkowski is cleared for contact at some point during training camp, there's still a big chance that he'll be far from 100% by the time week one rolls around. Even prior to his back surgery, his other ailments have kept him from working out with the team during the off season. He'd have a long road to getting back into game shape if his back were healthy – the added obstacle of his second offseason back surgery there makes the first half of his 2013 season highly questionable.

The Patriots other outstanding tight end, Aaron Hernandez, had been a brighter spot for New England recently. He too had offseason surgery, but in his case his shoulder has healed more quickly than expected and although he's not yet cleared for contact, he had begun to take part in OTAs last week. The good news stops there though, as he's now involved in a murder investigation. Most sources don't believe he's involved, but the fact that he's not being cooperative is concerning. When considering that, as well as his injury history in the past, the Patriots' tight end situation has clearly gone from a sure thing to a big question mark.

With seven players listed, the Patriots have more tight ends than any other team in the league. Unfortunately for New England, there's not much talent at the position behind Gronkowski and Hernandez. The only two other options on the roster with experience are Michael Hoomanawanuni and Daniel Fells. The two started a total of ten games for the Patriots last year, so they know this system and can be relied upon to start if called upon again in 2013. The two only combined for 9 catches and 200 yards receiving in those ten starts though – not even close to the same production and impact that you'd expect from the Patriots' top two tight ends.

In the past, one would expect New England to just look to a talent receiving corps to offset the loss of production else where, but that position group has also taken a big hit recently. With Wes Welker now in Denver and no proven threats at outside receiver, there is now a huge amount of pressure of Danny Amendola and Julian Edleman to not only carry the wide receiver group, but help offset the potential losses of Gronkowski and Hernandez as well.

Gronkowski's absence would be a massive loss for New England. While Hernandez could help make up for that between the 20s, his production in the red zone is second to none. With Hernandez himself in a questionable situation and a group of wide receivers that is almost entirely different from last years, this is a passing game which is almost certain to take a step backwards even with Tom Brady at the helm. Will the team as a whole be able to overcome that? We'll begin to find out in just a few more weeks.  


Aaron Hernandez was kicked out of Gillette Stadium on Thursday

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez appears to be in some pretty deep trouble and things surrounding the murder investigation and his behavior in relation to it just keep getting weirder. On Thursday Hernandez left his home and drove to Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play. The entire way he was tailed by news helicopters in a scene eerily reminiscent of O.J. Simpson’s...

Report: Pats’ Hernandez not ruled out as a suspect

Police have not ruled out Patriots tight end as a suspect in a homicide investigation according to WBZ-TV in Boston.. Hernandez is not cooperating with police according to a source to the station. On Tuesday police entered Hernandez’s residence in North Attleboro and later emerged with a box. They also visited the residence on Wednesday but left when no one answered the door. Police...

Aaron Hernandez has associates engaged in "gang activity"

Sports Illustrated's Greg Bedard went into this a bit in a radio interview with Toucher and Rich. Apparently, Hernandez was involved with some people who involved with gangs in Bristol, CT where he grew up. Obviously, being drafted close to home by the Patriots puts him back close to those same people. Sports Illustrated: Personnel sources from multiple NFL teams tell SI that...

Aaron Hernandez reportedly questioned by police in homicide probe

With Rob Gronkowski having undergone back surgery on Tuesday, the last thing the New England Patriots need is to lose fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez. That is why Pats fans will likely hold their collective breath when they hear that Hernandez is reportedly being questioned by police in connection with a homicide that may have [...]

Helicopter Following Aaron Hernandez’s Audi on Highway (Photos)

Police must believe that Aaron Hernandez is going to flee because they are following him in Helicopters wherever he goes. These photos were provided in real time by @NFL_RealUpdates

Report: Aaron Hernandez Has ‘Direct Ties’ to Homicide Victim, While Police Believe Murder Is Drug-Related

Further details have emerged in the Aaron Hernandez investigation. A law enforcement source told FOX 25 that the Patriots tight end appears to have direct ties to 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, whose body was found less than a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleboro home. Police have ruled Lloyd’s death a homicide. The same source told FOX that Hernandez had been out at a bar in...

Meme: Ron Burgundy’s very important message for Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez, Ron Burgundy has a very important message for you: "You might want to lay low for a while, because you're probably wanted for murder."

Report: Aaron Hernandez Sued for Allegedly Shooting Man in Face in February

In some interesting timing, Aaron Hernandez was sued earlier this week for allegedly shooting a man in the face after an altercation at a Miami strip club. Alexander S. Bradley filed a lawsuit against the Patriots tight end on June 13, according to TMZ. The two were leaving Tootsie’s Cabaret in the same car on Feb. 13, 2013 when Bradley said Hernandez pointed a gun at him. The...

The Aaron Hernandez shooting a guy in the face suit re-filed today

Criminal record of the guy accusing Hernandez of shooting him, since the alleged shooting News broke yesterday that Aaron Hernandez was being accused of shooting a man, Alexander Bradley, in the face. Bradley claims to have lost an eye in the altercation. The suit was originally thrown out due to some paper work errors (apparently they wrote there were screws in the arm, not face...

BREAKING: Aaron Hernandez is having his O.J. white Bronco moment

Suit: Pats' Hernandez shot man in face

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is being sued in South Florida by a man claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after an argument at a strip club.

Aaron Hernandez’s Home Searched

  Police and other officials searched the home of Patriots Aaron Hernandez earlier today in connection with the death of a man alleged to be an associate of the star tight end. Massachusetts state police are setting up an interview with Hernandez following their current investigation. During the search two [...]

Does Aaron Hernandez’s Legal Issues Make Room For Tim Tebow?

  I knew he would come in handy one way or another. Many people were confused when the New England Patriots signed Tim Tebow. There is no room for him, they said. With Tom Brady and Ryan Mallet at quarterback, why do you need Tebow? One word, versatility. Tim Tebow is as versatile as they come. His physical attributes make me think that he could line up at other positions on offense...
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