FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan has made it clear that a focal point of his team's offseason was to acquire the pieces needed to stop Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
The team signed free-agent safeties Yeremiah Bell and Laron Landry, who have each played central roles in the secondary through six weeks of the regular season.
Gronkowski spoke about the pair on Wednesday morning at Gillette Stadium.
"They're tough, physical players. They're good players," he said. "That's why they've been in the league a while. They're very experienced. You have to be aware of where they are, as well as all the other defensive players too. Because they're all good. Just have to go out there and be ready and play physical."
Beyond Bell and Landry, the Jets remain one of the best and, according to Gronkowski, unpredictable defenses in all of football.
"They just have a great defense," Gronkowski said. "You have to be aware of whatever they'll bring -- blitzes, they'll drop everyone -- you just have to be aware because they basically have every single play on the book on defense. You have to be aware, you have to be ready, because you never know what they're going to bring."
Though the numbers suggest that the Jets' defense has tailed off this season compared to previous years, Gronkowksi doesn't see much of a difference from 2011, when they finished fifth in the league in total defense.
"Defensive side, not really. Really doesn't matter about what they looked like in past years," he added. "It just matters this Sunday what they look like. They look pretty good. They've been making plays. We just have to go out there, be competitive, and be aware, and be ready."
For the second consecutive week, Gronkowski will likely have fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez back on the field of play alongside of him. Hernandez had missed three games after injuring his right ankle during a Week 2 defeat.
"He's a great player. He's very versatile and brings a lot. It's great to have him back," Gronkowski said. "As you can see, he makes plays all the time."
Gronkowski said that in Hernandez's absences, he did not notice a difference in the way that defenses covered him.
"Not really," he said. "Just whatever guys we have, that's what we have to roll with. That's how it is in the NFL. He's back now, so we'll be rolling with him and whatever the coaches call, the coaches call, and I just have to go out there and perform my job along with everyone else."