Patriots

Julian Edelman explains what Patriots will miss with Rob Gronkowski retired

Julian Edelman explains what Patriots will miss with Rob Gronkowski retired

The New England Patriots are going to miss recently retired Rob Gronkowski's impact on the field as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, but what he did for the team off the field also was very important.

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman explained Tuesday during an interview on WFAN's "Boomer & Gio" what the Patriots will miss this season without their historically dominant tight end.

“He’s definitely going to be missed," Edelman said. "Not just his athletic ability and what he does on the field, but how he is in the locker room. I’ve played nine or 10 years with the guy, and to see him every day and how he was as a professional — he never really had a bad day.

"When you play a long time with someone, you know them in and out. He’s such a good human being. Great dude to be around, like a big old teddy bear. Those are the things you’re going to miss the most. You go into Week 13, it’s been a grind, you’re banged up. We just had a long flight. We have a short week and you go into the office, you know, and sometimes it’s not easy to have a great attitude. You look at Gronk and Gronk’s over there in his locker, naked, smiling like, ‘Hey, what’s up, dude?’ That’s just Gronk, and those are the things you’re going to miss and obviously you’re going to miss his attributes.” 

Replacing what Gronkowski gave the Patriots on the field should be among the toughest challenges facing the team this season.

Matt LaCosse and veteran Benjamin Watson are the two-best options to start at tight end for the Patriots in 2019. Watson is suspended for the first four games, and LaCosse has 20 games of NFL experience, so New England isn't in a great spot at the position with training camp one month away.

The Patriots, as a result, will need multiple players to step up and help fill the on-field production Gronkowski would have provided, and two of the best candidates for the job are Edelman and rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry.

Edelman had a very good regular season in 2018 after missing the first four games due to suspension, and then he played even better in the playoffs, culminating with a Super Bowl LIII MVP performance. He's also Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's most trusted target on third down. Harry is a big, strong target that could be a real threat in the redzone -- a role Gronkowski filled so well for nine years.

The Patriots often do a great job replacing important players who leave in free agency or retirement, but this might be their greatest challenge yet. One player isn't going to replace Gronkowski -- it has to be a group effort on the Pats' offense.

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Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

The Patriots have downgraded safety Patrick Chung and running back Damien Harris from questionable to out for the game Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Chung has had heel and chest injuries but did play in the Pats' last game before their bye week, the Nov. 3 loss to the Ravens. Harris appeared on the injury report for the first time on Friday with a hamstring issue. The rookie third-round pick from Alabama has only been active for two games this season.

The loss of Chung could impact the Patriots most in their coverage of Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Taking on tight ends is something Chung has excelled at. 

ESPN Mike Reiss reports that Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse, out with a knee injury since Oct. 10, did travel with the team to Philly so he will likely be active for the game.

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Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

It was one of the most controversial calls in Patriots history...and it didn't come from an official.

It was Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 in the final minutes against the Indianapolis Colts. And it was 10 years ago today.

THE DECISION

It remains Belichick's most talked-about moves this side of Malcolm Butler. In a Week 10 matchup in Indianapolis, the 8-0 Colts faced the 6-2 Patriots in a high-scoring affair. Leading 34-28 but backed up at their own 28-yard-line and needing two yards for a first down, Belichick chose to go for it on fourth down and try and keep the ball out of quarterback Peyton Manning's hands.

THE PLAY

Tom Brady completed a pass to running back Kevin Faulk, who was driven backward by the Colts' Melvin Bullitt. After a measurement, Faulk was ruled short of the first down. Three Colts plays later, a Manning-to-Reggie Wayne TD pass and extra point with 13 seconds left a 35-34 victory.

THE AFTERMATH

There was plenty of second-guessing of Belichick's move. Had he outsmarted himself? Why didn't he punt and show more faith in his defense? 

“We thought we could win the game with that play,” he explained at the time. “That was a yard I was confident we could get.” Belichick had maintained it was more like fourth-and-long-1, rather than 2. Where the ball was spotted after the Faulk play is still the subject of debate.

Those Pats would go on to lose two of their next three, finish 10-6, still win the AFC East but get smoked by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in Foxboro in a wild-card playoff game. Manning's team won its first 14 games, then rested its regulars and lost twice before reaching its first Super Bowl as the Indy Colts and losing to the New Orleans Saints. 

TODAY

When Indianapolis reporter Kevin Bowen tweeted about the play's 10th anniversary on Saturday, it stirred up memories for former Colts linebacker Gary Brackens, who recalled the disrespect he felt from Belichick's decision to test the Indy defense. 

To this day, "Fourth-and-2" means only one thing to most NFL fans.

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