He had suffered a high-ankle sprain two weeks earlier in the Patriots’ 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. That hampered him in the Super Bowl
He had just two catches for 26 yards after a season in which he had 105 receptions, 15 of them in the other two postseason games.
On the last play of the 21-17 loss to the New York Giants, Brady made one desperation heave for the championship, a long pass to the right side of the end zone on the last play. Hernandez and three Giants went up for the ball, Gronkowski lunged for it as it was heading for the ground, and it fell incomplete.
After the season, Gronkowski had arthroscopic surgery on the ankle. Then he broke his forearm while blocking on an extra point in a 59-24 win over the Colts. He still may not be completely healthy, but Gronkowski is ready for whatever he’s asked to do.
“I’ll give the coaches a great look of what I can do (in practice) so they’re prepared for the game and what to call,” he said. “So whatever the coaches have in mind, I’ve just got to perform the best I can.”
The better he and Hernandez do that, the more coverage they’re likely to draw. And that would give wide receivers Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch more room to operate.
“The more weapons you have, the more guys have to pay attention to those guys,” Welker said. “Obviously, Aaron and Gronk are definitely guys you have to pay attention to.”
The double threat they pose, though, is no guarantee of success. In their five games together, the Patriots are just 3-2.
Gronkowski caught five touchdown passes in dominating wins over the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts in which Hernandez was sidelined. Hernandez caught two scoring passes in the last month’s rout of the Texans.