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|鈥?In the two-week run-up to the Super Bowl Luke Falk Jersey Titans , the New England Patriots will face plenty of questions about two things critical to the team’s success: Tom Brady’s right hand and Rob Gronkowski’s head.Brady answered most of the concerns about whether the hand injury would hinder him with a strong performance in New England’s AFC championship game victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.Gronkowski, meanwhile, will likely spend at least part of this week going through the concussion protocol. He suffered the injury on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jacksonville safety Barry Church.The game-changing tight end is Brady’s favorite target, and he missed last season’s Super Bowl run after undergoing season-ending back surgery.There was no update from the Patriots on Gronk’s status Monday, but he was at the facility for team meetings.“He was in pretty good spirits today when I spoke to him,” special teams captain Matt Slater said.Recently, New England has fared well when Gronkowski has been sidelined. But that hasn’t always been the case.The Patriots had plenty of time to adjust to his absence in 2016, when he played just eight games before the surgery. They also had Martellus Bennett to pick up the slack.Since the start of last season, New England is 12-1 without Gronk. In those games, the Patriots’ points per game actually increased from 28.6 to 28.8, although their yards per play declined from 8.1 to 7.6.The offense was also better without him on third down and in the red zone. Over the past two seasons it converted on 49.3 percent of its chances on third down and scored touchdowns on 66 percent of its red zone trips without him, compared to 45 percent on third down and scoring touchdowns on 62.6 percent of red zone trips when he played.From his rookie season in 2010 through 2015, his absence had a much greater impact.The Patriots were 12-7 without Gronkowski over that span, averaging 31.5 points per game with him and 26.3 without him. The offense’s average yards per pass attempt also fell from 7.8 with him to 6.6 without him.Before he was injured, Gronkowski passed Dallas Clark to become the NFL’s career leader for postseason yards at the position. And if the concussion were to sideline him for the Super Bowl Authentic Artemi Panarin Jersey , there’s not much depth behind him. The only tight ends on New England’s roster are Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister.Allen has 10 receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown this season. Hollister has four catches for 42 yards and was inactive against Jacksonville.Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said there is always a plan to adapt to injuries.“You have to make some adjustments. We always go into the game with a certain idea of how we want to try to play it,” he said. “It certainly doesn’t always play out the way that you wanted it to or that you had hoped to or designed it to, but that happens in every game.“So, everybody understands that that’s part of the game and when that happens, you just have to embrace whatever role you need to take on to help the team win.”Brady still has stitches in his right thumb. He hopes to have them removed sometime this week, and he doesn’t expect the injury to be an issue once Super Bowl week arrives.“And then I can just get out there and get normal treatment like I always do and be ready to go,” Brady said.“This was a little injury at the end of the day. … I mean, I’ve had a lot worse injuries than this. If this was on my left hand, I could care less, but just based on where it was, we had to deal with it.” The New York Jets will spend the next few weeks sorting through their intriguing quarterback situation, with Sam Darnold, Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater the clear focus of attention.
But the tight ends are in perhaps the most tightly contested competition of camp.
New York has a group of five mostly unheralded players trying to win roster spots and be among the guys catching passes from whoever ends up under center this season.
"It's tough," coach Todd Bowles said. "We've got a lot of competition there. Those guys work hard every day. From top to bottom, it's probably the deepest we've had since I've been here."
Clive Walford and Neal Sterling are the most experienced of the bunch Authentic Terrelle Pryor Sr. Jersey , with both entering their fourth NFL season 鈥?but are hardly household names. Eric Tomlinson has established himself as a solid pass-blocking tight end since entering the league in 2015.
Jordan Leggett was a fifth-round draft pick last year, but spent most of the season on injured reserve and is again dealing with an undisclosed injury that has sidelined him the last few practices.
The Jets also drafted Chris Herndon this year in the fourth round, and has an opportunity to win the starting job.
New York actually opened camp with six tight ends, but waived Bucky Hodges after just two practices.
"I think they are all doing a decent job and I think that's going to be a tough call and that will be one of the tougher position battles that we are going to have to judge going in," Bowles said. "We'll continue to monitor it, but I think all of those guys are doing well."
The tight end position had been mostly an afterthought in the Jets' offense in recent seasons until Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a career-high 50 passes to rank third on the team in receptions. But he signed with Jacksonville in March after New York allowed him to leave as a free agent.
"All of them have good hands," tight ends coach Jimmie Johnson said during minicamp in June. "I can't sit here and say one of them catches the ball better than the other."
Here's a look at the five tight ends competing for roster spots:
6-foot-4, 253 pounds, 22 years old, rookie, Miami.
Herndon had four catches in team drills during the Jets' scrimmage at Rutgers on Saturday night, continuing a strong camp.
"He's had good practices," Bowles said. "When the lights come on next Friday night when we play our first preseason game (vs. Atlanta) those guys will get a real chance to play."
Herndon had 86 catches for 1,048 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons with the Hurricanes, and was regarded as a mostly solid blocker. He injured a knee late last season and was limited in spring workouts Authentic Da'Ron Payne Jersey , but is now healthy.
It's uncertain, however, if he'll be available at the start of the regular season. Herndon was arrested in May for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey and is facing possible discipline from the NFL.
6-5, 258, 23, second season, Clemson.
Leggett might be the biggest wild-card in the bunch because he hasn't been able to stay healthy, but has displayed solid pass-catching skills when he's been on the field.
Leggett actually entered camp last year expected to be the starter on opening day because Seferian-Jenkins had to serve a two-game suspension for a DUI. But Leggett injured a knee early in the preseason and had his season officially end in October when he was placed on IR.
6-4, 257, 26, fourth season, Monmouth.
Sterling has shown good hands this summer after limited action with the Jets last season.
He was a seventh-round pick of Jacksonville in 2015 and had no catches in nine games. Sterling caught 12 passes for 110 yards in his second season with the Jaguars, but was waived last September as one of the team's camp cuts.
The Jets signed him and waived him a month later, but then plucked him from Kansas City's practice squad last October.
6-6, 263 Authentic Trent Murphy Jersey , 26, third season, UTEP.
Tomlinson came to the Jets in 2016 with a reputation for being a good blocker during stints in camps with Philadelphia and Houston.
He played in seven games with New York two years ago, including five starts, but didn't flash much pass-catching ability until last season when he had eight receptions for 121 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Tomlinson is also a solid special teamer.
"Tomlinson played well for us last year," Bowles said. "He is kind of our rock, and he's solid this year. He's really our unsung 'Steady Eddy' guy."
6-4, 250, 26, fourth season, Miami.
Walford was a third-round pick by Oakland in 2015 and showed promise in the Raiders' offense while catching three TD passes in each of his first two seasons.
A switch in offensive coordinators last season led to a reduced role for Walford, who was third on the depth chart behind Jared Cook and Lee Smith to start the year. Walford had just three catches through the first 12 games, and finished with nine receptions and no TDs after a concussion sidelined him the final three weeks.
He was released by Oakland in March, and claimed off waivers by New York.