Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shared praise for tight end Rob Gronkowski in his press conference following the team's 59-24 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but as it turns out, he wasn't aware at the time of how serious the forearm injury that forced the third-year tight end out of the game early really was.
"I knew he had gotten injured, but I obviously didn't know the extent," Brady said on his weekly appearance on the "Dennis & Callahan" show on WEEI sports radio in Boston. "But he's such a great player, it sucks that he gets hurt, but it's part of this game. He's got to do his best to get back as soon as possible, and we've got to go out there and win some games without him."
Gronkowski has been a major factor for the Patriots this season, leading the team in both receiving yards (748) and touchdowns with 10, a figure that is matched by only Bengals receiver A.J. Green. But while his impact is undeniable, Brady said others will have to step up in Gronkowski's absence, the length of which remains unclear after his scheduled surgery to repair the broken forearm.
"He does a lot for us, but there's a reason why you have other guys on the roster too," Brady added. "Visanthe [Shiancoe] and Daniel Fells and Aaron Hernandez and Hooman [Michael Hoomanawanui], everyone's got to get in there and start trying to make up for having Gronk out. That's just part of it, and you've got to find ways to adjust, and no one really cares. No one cares what's going on with us. We've got to go out there and still go out there and win."
The Patriots won't have their normal allotted preparation time to figure out how to adjust without Gronkowski, as they'll next play this Thursday in New York against the Jets. Brady said the team hasn't yet entered the game planning stages of their week, so it remains unclear how they will adjust their offensive personnel without Gronkowski.
"I'm not sure, we haven't got in to all that game planning," Brady said. "But our offense is -- we have flexibility within what we do. We try to play to the strengths of our players and obviously with Gronk, as a great player for our team, we've got to make adjustments and play to the strengths of the guys in there now."
The 35-year old quarterback noted that every team in the NFL deals with injuries, and they are no excuse to not continue to go out and put up points.
"That's just -- that's part of the football season," Brady continued. "The Jets lose [cornerback Darrelle] Revis for the season, they lost [wide receiver] Santonio Holmes for the season, they've got injuries, every team has injuries. We've been dealing with them all season and we've still got to go out there and do our job and execute."