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In a tight spot?

9/20/2011

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Aaron Hernandez had another big game, but injured his knee vs. San Diego.If second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez is forced to miss game action, how will his absence impact the Patriots' offense? Last year's visit to Buffalo might help shed a little light:

The Patriots travel to Buffalo this weekend, the same place they played without Hernandez last season. What does that Week 16 game tell us about how the Patriots compensated? Consider this:

Rob Gronkowski played 67 of 68 offensive snaps and should probably brace for another hefty workload with Hernandez sidelined.

Alge Crumpler, the team's third tight end, started alongside Gronkowski in a two-tight-end formation and played 43 snaps, while the team still limited his releases into passing routes. This is an area where Dan Gronkowski could fill in.

• Even without Hernandez, the Patriots ran 35 of 68 plays out of a two-wide-receiver, two-tight-end formation, including 23 of 37 first-half snaps in which New England built a 24-3 cushion and cruised to a 34-3 triumph.

• Third wide receiver Brandon Tate saw a bump in snaps and the Patriots ran 24 total snaps out of a three-receiver set. New England has utilized formations with three or more receivers just 25 of 151 snaps so far this season. Regardless, more three-wide sets open the door for Ochocinco to see more snaps and show where he's at in terms of grasping the offense.

Hop HERE to read the full story examining Hernandez's potential absence.