Sep 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Vikings 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
5. Rob Gronkowski
Gronk has been on the field for roughly 40% of the offensive snaps thus far, and it will be interesting to see where that number goes on Sunday.
On the one hand, now would be a good time to try and get him and Brady on the same page, as the Raiders’ defense is not that great, but at the same time, like Dennard, you don’t want to push him in a game where his services aren’t really needed. I personally think the Pats should play Gronk a good amount in the first half, try and get him more comfortable with Brady, and then give him some time off in the second half.
Assuming New England has a comfortable lead by halftime, I think that would be a perfect compromise for big number 87. He will get some much needed snaps with the starting offense, but the Pats won’t be putting him at too much of a risk by overplaying him too early.