Found January 01, 2013 on Boston Sports Then & Now:
Patriots-hernandez
  They’re back! The duo of Aaron Hernandez (left) and Ron Gronkowski (right) are full steam ahead entering the postseason.   To say Patriot fans have been waiting for the duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to reunite would be a vast understatement. It has been a long time coming, even if it did take mostly the whole season for the pair to join forces again. Leading up to the 2012 season, it was widely discussed that this could most potent combination of receiving threats in the whole NFL.  Both Gronk and Hernandez were given monster contracts before their first ever expired, adding more fuel to how crucial they would be to the prolific New England offense.  Unfortunately, the 2012 season did begin for these two as each was hit with an injury and the discussion wasn’t how much damage they could do together, but when? Yesterday’s win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday marked the first time these two have played together since week six of the season against the Seattle Seahawks. That was Hernandez’s first game back from a bad ankle sprain he suffered in week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, and it was evident he wasn’t 100%. Ultimately, Hernandez was shut down for another month and that is when disaster struck again. In week eleven, Gronk suffered a broken forearm in the final minutes of a blowout win against the Indianapolis Colts. Luckily for the Patriots, Hernandez returned the following week against the Jets and they were able to weather the TE injury storm just fine. Well, the storm is over and this duo is getting healthy and now is on track to play together in the real season- the playoffs. As it relates to Hernandez, he is getting healthier each and every week and that is becoming more noticeable in his playing confidence. In the beginning stages of his return from injury Hernandez was certainly laying off the gas trying not to aggravate the injury, but now are full systems go. While Gronk is the Batman of the duo, Hernandez is the Robin, and he complements Gronk’s physical play with his shiftiness and come playoff that will be needed. In order to fix the problem Hernandez has to take ownership and he relayed that message, “I’ve just got to keep improving every week and get back to myself. That’s really about it. I missed a lot of football, so I’ve just got to keep improving, keep working hard during the week and have to perform on Sundays.”   We hope to see a lot of Gronk spikes come playoff time. The Gronk Effect: Gronk catch ball, Gronk run over, Gronk score, Gronk spike ball. After six long weeks, The Gronk Effect was back in full swing, sort of. Throughout Sunday’s 28-0 shutout win against Miami it was evident that Gronk was not 100%, as it looked like he was playing with one arm, but on the flip side his presence was felt. It could very well be that Gronk was protecting that arm as much as possible while still allowing himself to knock off rust. In any case, he still looked pretty darn good for a guy holding back and it allowed Tom Brady to have one of his favorite targets back. Now,with an extra week to rest with the team having a first round bye; expect Gronk to be as close to full go as possible, which spells bad news for opposing defenses. Maybe this was the Patriots’ plan the whole time, just getting through the season without both playing at the same time so opposing teams have no film on them together….not! Yes, both players are battling through injuries and both are improving, but let’s be honest, this worked out perfectly for the team. Ultimately, they have a first round bye to get guys healthy, they did it without both Tight End’s together, and opposing teams have no idea what they will throw at them.  The playoffs could be the season the team has been waiting for;The rise of the Boston TE Party!
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