Next, it was Aaron Hernandez, Gronk’s sidekick at tight end. Hernandez proved to be a solid counterpart to Gronkowski on the field, and filled in admirably when Gronk was off the field due to injuries. Hernandez has stolen the spotlight, for all the wrong reasons — he awaits his fate in jail as he stands accused of murder, and may face more charges in connection with a multiple homicide.
Then there was Belichick’s much-watched, high profile gamble. He brought in Tim Tebow, the enigma of the NFL. Tebow has great talent, strength and speed, but has yet to meet the very high expectations placed upon him. Last week, perplexed fans watched Tebow struggle at quarterback during a preseason game.
But adversity is always the 12th player on a football team. There are always injuries and setbacks to contend with. The best teams are the ones that find a way to plug in the gap, and perhaps come out stronger.
The Patriots have always been very good at this. They’ve placed great faith in Welker’s replacement, Danny Amendola. It’s expected that Gronk will return at some point this season. Hopefully Belichick has a role for Tebow, perhaps not as a quarterback. And there are some talented rookies that may emerge as surprising success stories. The team’s defense remains relatively strong, and Brady looks sharp as ever.
It is not business as usual for Pats fans this year, but perhaps it will bring us back to the days of 2001 when a bunch of unknown players rose to the occasion.