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Gronk: Pats need 'whole offense' to replace Edelman

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It might seem odd to see such a loaded Patriots team continue to lament the loss of one player -- in this case, wide receiver Julian Edelman -- no matter how good that player is.

On Wednesday, a little more than 24 hours ahead of the team's season-opening Thursday night game against the Chiefs in Foxborough, tight end Rob Gronkowski continued that trend.

"You can't really replace Julian. The way he plays the game, the way he goes out there, the way he loves football is just not replaceable," Gronkowski said, via ESPN.com. "I mean, just as a whole, as an offense, we've just got to step it up. It's not just going to be one guy to throw in. It's going to be a unit. It's going to be the whole offense just stepping up to fill his void."

While those accustomed to Madden roster building simply accept the fact that former first-round pick and recent Patriots acquisition Phillip Dorsett can plug into a similar role and put up monster numbers because it's the Patriots system, those who have watched Tom Brady and Edelman through the years know what Gronkowski is talking about. During a visit to CBS headquarters with Tony Romo recently, I was struck by what Romo said about the loss of Edelman from his perspective.

"The Edelman injury is a big loss," Romo said. "Do you see how calm Brady is in the pocket sometimes? It's because he's waiting for Edelman to get open and he knows its about to happen based on coverage, based on leverage, based in years of repetition. They're going to have to find that next guy -- someone will step in and do good things but it won't be as easy, as simple for Brady just to go do it. But that's what makes them special -- they'll find a new way. But it is a bigger loss than people know."

Romo had that player in tight end Jason Witten and, thankfully, never had to play a regular season game without Witten in the lineup.

The Patriots are the most talented team in football again this year and are realistic options to compete for a stunning sixth Super Bowl title. But without Edelman, it will be a different Patriots team than we've seen in the recent past.

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