With tight end Aaron Hernandez out an estimated 2-4 weeks with a sprained MCL the Patriots will need to find someone to try and make up for Hernandez’ absence. While the team has the Gronkowski brothers as tight ends it is unlikely to see Dan get significant action. A player that could see an increased work load this Sunday is wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
In the first two games the Patriots have shown a lot of sets with multiple tight ends on the field. In fact there have only been 26 plays all season where the team did not run a multi-tight end set. There have been 32 plays all season where the Patriots have ran a three-tight end set. The Patriots will not run that set with Hernandez out of the lineup.
Through two games Hernandez has played 109 snaps, while Dan Gronkowski has played 40. It is very unlikely that Gronkowski will expand his role that much, after just joining the team a few weeks ago. The more likely scenario for the Patriots is to go to more three wide receiver, one tight end sets. So far this season the majority of the offensive plays have been in the hurry up where Ochocinco hasn’t been on the field for. He has 17 and 18 plays in the games respectively so far this season.
With more three wide receiver sets this would create more playing opportunities for Ochocinco. He is the No. 3 receiver behind Deion Branch and Wes Welker. Ochocinco has been seen talking to Tom Brady for long amounts of time on the sidelines going over routes and plays. It has taken some time for Ochocinco to adjust to the Patriots complicated system, but he is due to break out and what better time than now when he should see increased playing time?