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What Gronkowski's injury means for the Patriots

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  November 18, 2012 10:52 PM

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FOXBOROUGH – Rob Gronkowski suffered a broken left forearm on an extra point late in Sunday night’s 59-24 victory over the Colts, a league source confirmed what Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England reported earlier.

Let’s try to take a look at the injury, and what it means for the Patriots:

  • As far as the play where the injury occurred, it was the final extra point. Former Patriots and current Colts defensive back Marshay Green Sergio Brown rushed inside Gronkowski, and then his arm crumpled a little awkwardly. Gronkowski had been on the bench for that series but re-entered for the extra point. I don’t have a problem with that. Your field goal unit is your field goal unit. Could they have subbed him out for anybody? Yes, but it is what it is.
  • Heard from a few sources that on the previous extra point, Gronkowski got into it with a couple of Colts. Didn’t look like it carried over to the final extra point.
  • Don’t know the specifics of the injury, which are obviously needed for full context. Which bone(s) is it? Is it more of an elbow injury?
  • The true timeframe is unknown until Gronkowski is examined Monday, but he’s being told it’s somewhere in the realm of 4-6 weeks. That would almost definitely put him out for games against the Jets, Dolphins, Texans, and 49ers. After that, they’ll have to see. Some guys heal more quickly than others. And Gronkowski, being 23, has youth on his side. One thought is that if he can come back on the short end with a brace, he might not be able to block as effectively, but could be useful as more of a receiver.
  • The Patriots should be able to get a stranglehold on the division with a victory against the Jets on Thursday. Aaron Hernandez (ankle) is expected back for that game. The Patriots held him out today because the short turnaround for Thursday probably wouldn’t have been possible.
  • Gronkowski and Hernandez play two different positions in the Patriots’ offense. From my tight ends story in the season preview section:
There is the traditional “Y,” whose job requirements read: 6 feet 5 inches or taller, at least 255 pounds, can run but absolutely must be a standout blocker. He has to be a viable receiver, but not a great one.

The “F” or flex tight end is 6-3 or taller, around 235 pounds, must be able to run and be an excellent pass receiver. Does not need to be a good blocker.

  • If the Patriots want to stick with that system while Gronkowski is out, then Michael Hoomanawanui (6-4, 263) and Daniel Fells (6-4, 265) could fill Gronkowski’s Y position. Hernandez (6-1, 245) and Visanthe Shincoe (6-4, 250) are the flex tight ends.
  • Obviously Gronk is irreplaceable with what he does. The Patriots would lose a lot of their seam routes that they love to throw to him. But they can make up for it in different ways, mostly by becoming more of a receiver-focused team with Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Julian Edelman and Greg Salas. Then they could sprinkle the tight ends in.
  • Look, losing Gronkowski hurts but let’s not make it out like the Patriots’ offense can’t survive not having him. Will they have to be different? Yes, but that doesn’t mean less. They still have Tom Brady, who has done more with less before. And also remember that Gronkowski hasn’t been 100 percent this season. Perhaps the time off could be a blessing in a disguise.
  • In a perfect world, the Patriots would get a bye without him and he can come back 100 percent. It would also be helpful if the defense improves and takes some pressure off the offense.
  • The bottom line is losing Gronkowski hurts, but it’s far from a season-ender. There will be an adjustment period, but the Patriots will have to deal with it and get the job done.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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