The New England Patriots’ offense took a huge step back in 2013.
Although they still reached the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots lack of targets made quarterback Tom Brady look human and the team struggled to score throughout the season. The biggest reason for the Patriots’ struggles was another injury to Rob Gronkowski, who is perhaps the game’s best tight end.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com takes a look at how the Patriots will fare if Gronkowski is injured again.
But an argument could be made that their receiving corps, backfield and interior line are all in better position to help compensate for Gronkowski’s possible absence.
Amendola has missed 24 games in the past three seasons and isn’t to be trusted, Williamson said. (From a roster-planning standpoint, I agree.) But the Patriots made sure to re-sign Julian Edelman after he caught a career-high 105 passes in the slot role, and free-agent acquisition Brandon LaFell is big enough (210 pounds) to be used in a quasi-tight end position. It also stands to reason that at least one of the Patriots’ two young receivers from last season, Aaron Dobson (37 receptions) and Kenbrell Thompkins (32), will benefit from a full offseason of work to elevate his game.
“Edelman really had a great year last season and is a premier slot guy in my opinion,” Williamson said. “And I think Dobson has a chance to really break out, especially as a downfield receiver. I also keep hearing that Thompkins is tearing it up this offseason.”
Gronkowski made 39 receptions for 592 yards and four touchdowns in seven games last season. In his career, he has 226 catches for 3,255 yards and 42 touchdowns.