Eighteen former Arizona Wildcats were lucky enough to finish the year on an NFL roster…only a handful (5) were fortunate enough to make it into the postseason…even less (3) will actually dress or play much.
The former Wildcat and his Patriots’ teammates will get to watch wildcard weekend from home as New England awaits the highest remaining seed.
Depending on what happens Saturday afternoon between the No. 3 Houston Texans and the No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals, Gronk could end up squaring off against a Texans defense featuring Arizona’s other postseason playing alums, D-lineman Earl Mitchell and outside linebacker Brooks Reed.
TE Rob Gronkowski #87
2012 stats: 11 games – 55 catches, 790 yards, 11 TDs
It was a down year for Gronkowski compared to last year’s record setting performance (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs)…in large part because Gronkowski missed the last five weeks with a broken forearm.
Gronk returned in last week’s regular season finale picking up right where he left off…as one of quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite toys.
The tight end only caught two passes but one of them was a 23-yard score.
Now that Gronkowski has put to rest any questions about his ability to produce post-injury, fresh legs and an extra week to get back to full-strength could spell disaster for any of New England’s possible opponents.
Not that the Patriots have struggled in Gronk’s absence but his return could be the difference between a postseason appearance and a playoff run.
Less double-teams down field, better blocking up front, and New England’s ability to operate out of its preferred two-tight end sets…makes the Patriots almost unbeatable heading into the final month of the season.
Too skilled for base, too big for nickel, Gronkowski and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez pose constant mismatches for Brady to exploit.
This will be just the fifth time all season both have been healthy enough to play in the same game.