Pats pass-catchers top red-zone charts

July, 13, 2011
7/13/11
1:00
PM ET
One of the vivid memories of 2010 Patriots training camp was the first team drill Bill Belichick decided to run: Three tight ends on the field, ball placed close to the goal-line, let's go!

The Patriots had not performed up to their standard in the red zone in 2009, so it sure looked like Belichick was making an early statement. With the presence of a completely revamped tight end position -- Alge Crumpler, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez -- there was hope that the red-zone performance would improve in 2010.

It did, and part of that improvement is highlighted in a piece written by Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News.

Iyer looks at the NFL's 2010 receiving leaders in the red zone, and the Patriots are represented in the top spots:

Red-zone touchdowns: Gronkowski, 9
Red-zone receiving yards: Wes Welker, 116

"In games where Gronkowski caught a red-zone touchdown from Tom Brady, the Patriots went 7-0 and averaged 35 points," Iyer notes. "It's impressive Gronkowski and [Marcedes] Lewis are in the same categorical company with the elite tight end duo of [Jason] Witten and [Antonio] Gates."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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