Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/19/12
Carolina_panthers_v_5a8c
If you’re one of the many Patriots fans playing Monday Morning Coach, and questioning Bill Belichick‘s decision to include Rob Gronkowski and other starting players on special teams, you’re rooting for the wrong head coach. Belichick, above maybe all other head coaches, values special teams like it’s any other part of the game. Since Gronkowski is one of the best blockers on the team, he was in on field goals and extra points and he’ll continue to be. Gronkowski is hardly the only starter to play on special teams. Danny Woodhead, Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington all play a major role in the Patriots’ kicking and punting game. Julian Edelman is a fringe starter at this point, and he plays an even greater role in the kicking game. While reserves like Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner, Niko Koutouvides and Jeff Tarpinian play the biggest roles in the Patriots’ special teams, those reserve players can’t be the only ones if you want to have a successful unit. Obviously, on an NFL squad, your starters are the most talented players on the roster. If those players can star on offense or defense, they’ll likely do the same in the kicking game. There’s a reason why the Patriots are second in the NFL in yards per punt return. There’s a reason why New England has punted the fewest times in the league (34), yet has the sixth most punts downed inside the twenty yard line (20). It’s because Belichick sees there’s value there, and he uses the best men for the job. One of the best decisions Belichick made this year was to move McCourty to kick return duties. Sure, he coughed up a return and nearly lost the Jets game for the Patriots, but he also ran a return back for a touchdown in the same game. His returns have been a major improvement over Woodhead, Edelman and Slater’s from last season. New England averaged 21.4 yards per return last season, McCourty is up to 25.7 this year. There’s also something very team-oriented about having star players relegated to special teams duties. Gronk may be on magazine covers and television commercials, but he’s still out there grinding with the rest of the team blocking on an extra point. Isn’t Boston all about these scrappy, hard-working athletes? Or do they have to be under 5-foot-10? Obviously, the more a player is out on the field, the more prone to injuries he’ll be, but when was the last time you heard of a player getting injured on an extra point? It doesn’t happen very often. In a worst case scenario, it happened to Gronk and he’ll be out for 4-6 weeks, in plenty of time to help the Patriots in the playoffs. And that includes helping on special teams.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Dwight Howard ejected for hanging on rim

NHL rumors: Capitals acquire Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk in bold trade

Report: Chiefs making ‘strong push’ to make Eric Berry highest-paid safety in NFL

Dana White hints at Conor McGregor's next opponent

Report: Steelers make Brown NFL's highest-paid WR

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Chiefs sign Duvernay-Tardif to five-year extension

MLB considering introducing 'stickier' baseballs

Report: Browns have discussed trading No. 12 pick for Garoppolo

Report: Lowry expected to miss 4-5 weeks, return for playoffs

Report: Cowboys to release Romo in coming weeks

Report: Jennings expected to sign with Hornets

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in Major League Baseball

The best sports movies available to stream right now

Biggest surprises and disappointments of the NBA season

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in MLB

The best sports movies available to stream right now

Biggest surprises and disappointments of the NBA season

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 20 or more games in a season since 2000

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker