FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After a three-touchdown performance on Saturday night by Rob Gronkowski, and the emergence of Aaron Hernandez of a jack-of-all-trades across the offensive formation, the Patriots tight end duo have the NFL on notice.
"These two are changing the game," Patriots guard Brian Waters said. "We can run the ball, we can pass the ball, we can go up-tempo and not have to change personnel out. We can be physical and still not have to change the personnel out."
The NFL is often credited with being a 'copy-cat' league, and Waters thinks the double-edged sword that Gronkowski and Hernandez have combined to create will be imitated across the league.
"I think you're going to see guys get drafted, tight ends that probably would have been fourth- or fifth-round picks are probably going to get drafted higher because of what these guys are able to do," Waters said. "You're going to see other teams who are going to try to match guys with their 'receiving tight ends' by trying to match them with a guy who can do some of the things that our guys are able to do."
Hernandez had five carries for 61 yards and four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown, while Gronkowski, in addition to his three touchdown grabs, led the team with ten receptions for 145 yards.
"It gives you the opportunity that if you decide you want to take away one, it opens up for the other," Waters said. "And then you add the fact that we have some receiving threats with our receivers, and even some good guys in the backfield at our running back position, it just limits the things you can do defensively as far as trying to take one person out of the game.
"It's something we've been able to take advantage of and hopefully we'll continue to take advantage of that."