NFL New England Patriots

5 New England Patriots Players Who Must Step Up In Rob Gronkowski’s Absence

1 of 6

5 Patriots Who Must Step Up In Rob Gronkowski’s Absence

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots may have defeated the Cleveland Browns yesterday, but even a win was not enough to make fans forget about Rob Gronkowski tearing his ACL and MCL. Now Josh McDaniels and his fellow offensive coaches must find a way to help compensate for the loss of the best tight end in the NFL.

Although it seemed like Tom Brady was able to move the chains without Gronkowski, do not be fooled. Gronkowski was the top receiving threat on the team, recording 39 receptions for 592 yards and four touchdowns in just seven games. In addition to being the top receiving threat, Gronkowski is also the top red zone weapon. His immense size (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) makes it easy for Brady to just throw the football up when the Patriots get there. Add that to Gronkowski’s tackle-breaking ability, and the tight end can be considered amongst the top red zone targets in the entire league.

What sets Gronkowski apart from someone like Jimmy Graham is his ability to block. Gronkowski often lines up as a classic in-line tight end, which means that he does all the dirty work that a tight end must do. This is where Gronkowski’s size comes in handy once again, as the big man can play the role of an extra offensive tackle if he has to. Patriots fans might not have seen Gronkowski blocking as much this season due to his injuries and lack of reliable pass catchers around him, but he can still do it.

So who will replace Gronkowski? There is no one player who can replicate what he brings to the field, but there are other players who can step up in his absence. If these following guys step up, the Patriots might not be doomed after all.

2 of 6

5. Tom Brady

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Brady must be he his normal self now more than ever. The best way he can do this is to get rid of the ball quickly and avoid turnovers.

3 of 6

4. Shane Vereen

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Vereen must continue to separate from opposing linebackers and safeties, and needs to consistently come down with the football, particularly on wheel routes.

4 of 6

3. Julian Edelman

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Edelman is currently the no. 1 wide receiver on the team. He will now have to stretch the field a little bit more than he is used to. The middle post routes that he ran toward the end of yesterday’s game must continue to be executed.

5 of 6

2. Aaron Dobson

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

When Dobson gets healthy, he has to return to what he was. Before he got injured, Dobson was the every-down “X” wide receiver. His ability to beat press man coverage and get downfield is more important now than ever.

6 of 6

1. Danny Amendola

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

It is time for Amendola to earn his money. The man was paid to be the no. 1 wide receiver for the Patriots, though that is not what he has turned out to be. At the very least, Amendola must become the no. 2 wide receiver for Brady, who loves throwing to his slot receivers.