Examining the 'Gronk Effect'

If Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is limited in Super Bowl XLVI because of a high ankle sprain, how might the offense adjust?

Patriots reporter Mike Reiss attempts to answer that question in a piece now posted on ESPNBoston.com.

In many cases in which an injured player isn't healthy enough to fully perform his normal football duties, there is a trickle-down effect.

This is something different. Call it the "Gronk Effect," and it's far-reaching. ...

For an offense that ran more than 80 percent of its snaps this season with two or more tight ends on the field, if not Gronkowski, then who?

Gronkowski is joined by only second-year stud Aaron Hernandez (79 receptions) as players on the New England roster who have the "TE" designation next to their names. To compensate at times, the Patriots have utilized offensive tackle Nate Solder as a tight end/eligible receiver (144 snaps this season), which adds power but can make them more predictable and less dynamic.

So if Gronkowski can't go the ironman route Sunday night, a big question is how the Patriots will recalibrate their attack.

Based on what unfolded at different points of the season and more recently in the playoffs, it is likely that more would fall on a third receiver. That could thrust Julian Edelman (four receptions), Chad Ochocinco (15 receptions) and/or Tiquan Underwood (three receptions) under a brighter-than-expected spotlight.

To read the piece, CLICK HERE.