AFC East: surgery


After losing 2012 starting wide receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, the New England Patriots must rely heavily on tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the passing game. But can the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady count on Gronkowski to have another Pro Bowl season in 2013?

Gronkowski is slated for back surgery Tuesday and is expected to miss a portion of training camp. The main goal is to have Gronkowski ready for New England's Week 1 AFC East battle against the Buffalo Bills.

But how effective with Gronkowski be when he returns?

“He will be Gronk-ish, I’ll say, but I don’t know if he will be the same explosive, strong, physical Gronkowski," ESPN NFL analyst Jason Taylor said. "It’s tough to come back from four surgeries on your forearm, and now a fifth surgery on your back.”

Taylor also mentioned all of the offseason work in the weight room and strength training that Gronkowski is missing. It will take time to regain his full strength and flexibility.

I’ve said several times to expect New England’s passing attack to take a step back this year. The receivers aren’t as good and the tight end position has plenty of health concerns. If Gronkowski isn’t the “Gronk” of old in 2013, New England needs others step up and stay healthy for a full season.

No more excuses for Mario Williams

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
4:23
PM ET
Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams had corrective surgery to fix pain in his injured wrist that is causing his poor play. After the surgery, there should be no more excuses from Williams.

Williams is expected to return for Buffalo’s next game Nov. 4 against the Houston Texans (6-1). The Bills (3-4) are struggling and desperately need their most dynamic and highest-paid defender to show up, no less against his former team.

The bar is very high for Williams, who has underachieved after signed a $100 million contract. With the exception of a game or two, Williams has virtually disappeared. He claimed the illegal use of hands to the face shut him down against the New York Jets. Williams also used his wrist injury as the reason he hasn’t been consistent.

Now that the wrist is taken care of, Williams has run out of excuses. He will be a healthier player, and it’s time to play good, solid football for the Bills before it’s too late.

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