As CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora noted, Gronkowski took an ugly hit at the knees and was carted off:
If Gronkowski misses an extended amount of time, it will certainly be a huge blow to the Patriots' offense. The 24-year-old returned to his normal form of stardom after missing the early part of the season—he notched at least 90 yards in four of six games entering Sunday.
Hoomanawanui will have to shake off a recent injury if he wants to step into Gronk's role. According to NESN.com's Doug Kyed, the 25-year-old missed the last two weeks with an injury before returning this week to the lineup.
It will take a major 360-degree transformation from the early part of this season if Hoomanawanui is going to fill the void at tight end. In six games this season before Gronk made his 2013 debut, he caught a pass in just three games and amassed 93 yards in total—no touchdowns.
Instead of simply entrenching another player into his slot like many great quarterbacks do, Tom Brady turned to other receivers with no Gronkowski in the fold. No tight end emerged in his absence.
That didn't change on Sunday. Hoomanawanui didn't record a single reception in his first game back in two weeks.
If Gronkowski ends up missing extended time, look to the early part of 2013 as an indication for how the Patriots offense will go. Don't go out of your way to add Hoomanawanui when he hasn't shown the ability to produce with no Gronk in recent performances.
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