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The ones left behind

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff  October 6, 2010 09:58 AM

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Randy Moss is off to Minnesota and with him goes the defensive attention that frees up players such as Wes Welker. Moss forces defenses to keep an eye on him, but without him, how will the Patriots offense look?

Throughout the season, the Patriots have declared there isn't a replacement for Moss. But they obviously believe they can live without him.

You know about Welker and what he brings, but who's left?

Many are looking to the speedy Brandon Tate, who has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season. Tate has seven catches for 96 yards in his second year. His longest reception is 29 yards. Tate, a 6-foot-1-inch, 195-pounder, played at North Carolina, and missed most of his rookie season because of a knee injury.

The player who may figure to be more involved in the offense could be rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. He leads the Patriots with 240 yards on 18 catches. His longest reception is a 46-yard grab that was mostly due to his shifty work downfield. Hernandez makes people miss and seems comfortable enough to take on a more pronounced role.

Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski has two touchdowns and six catches for 62 yards. His 6-6, 265-pound frame gives Tom Brady a big target in the end zone.

Rookie Taylor Price has been inactive for the first four games this season. The Patriots kept him on board after picking him up in the third round out of Ohio. He didn't come from the most sophisticated offense in college, but the Patriots like his potential.

Julian Edelman hasn't been seen much this season as he recovers from a foot sprain. He has four catches for 14 yards.

Matthew Slater has been on the field as a receiver, but in the couple of times he has been targeted, he hasn't come up with a catch.



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