Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/19/12

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 02: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots carries a reception into the endzone past Antrel Rolle of the New York Giants for a first quarter touchdown on September 2, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The New England Patriots may have put a whooping on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but they lost their second-most important offensive player in the process. Aside from Tom Brady, no player is more crucial to New England’s success on offense than Rob Gronkowski. Now that Gronk is expected to miss at least four weeks with a broken forearm, the Patriots will need to make some major adjustments. The stats speak for themselves. Gronkowski has hauled in 53 passes for 748 yards and a league-leading 10 touchdowns. But that doesn’t tell the entire story. Gronkowski is Brady’s favorite safety valve. Third down used to belong to Wes Welker, but now Brady seems to always look for his big tight end when the Patriots need to move the chains. Then, there’s the revitalized running game. Because of his importance in the passing game, Gronkowski is a tremendously underrated run blocker. The Patriots rank fifth in the NFL with 142.9 rushing yards per game. Much of that success is owed to the emergence of Stevan Ridley, but Gronk has been just as important in the run game as any other player along the Patriots offensive line. Aaron Hernandez is scheduled to return from an ankle injury against the Jets on Thursday night, which should help soften the blow a bit. However, he is not nearly as effective a blocker as Gronkowski and is far more one-dimensional. Backup tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui, Visanthe Shiancoe and Daniel Fells may be able to help as blockers, but can any of them become an effective option for Brady in the passing game? If you recall, Gronkowski was significantly banged up when the Patriots played the New York Giants in the Super Bowl nine months ago. Playing with a less-than-full strength Gronk didn’t go so well. Playing with an absent Gronk could be even worse. Photo credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ishmael Adams suspended indefinitely following arrest

McNair: Pats caused problem by not cooperating with Deflategate

Browns terminate contract of Phil Taylor

WWE’s “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka charged in 30-year-old murder case

Randall Cobb: ‘I don’t plan on missing a game’

Ronda Rousey confirms she was supposed to fight Gina Carano

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Harbaugh denies using F-word in Jay Gruden exchange

Urban Meyer: Both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones will play

Legal expert: NFL's reported offer to Brady 'really ridiculous'

Seguin called out by former Maple Leafs CEO for partying

No suspension for Sarkisian was made in best interest of USC

Jim Tomsula disputes report Jarryd Hayne has made 49ers

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

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Everett Golson named FSU's starting QB

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