Patriots Have Double Threat At Tight End

IRVING, Texas --Wes Welker is the most publicized pass-catcher on New England's high-powered offense, and deservedly so. But the Patriots' offense has also evolved with the expanded use of their two second-year tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

With quarterback Tom Brady operating in a lot of two-tight ends, they've already combined for 41 catches, 558 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gronkowski, in particular, is a red zone threat with five scores. Hernandez could be referred to as a receiver, not a tight end. He missed two games with a sprained MCL but caught five passes for 56 yards in his return last week against the Jets. Brady targeted him a team-high nine times.

Both have made Welker's job easier and given New England's offense some new formation looks.

"They're very talented players," Welker said, "and Aaron and Gronk have done a great job of really just kind of learning the offense and understanding what we want and really have made a lot of plays for us. We're going to continue to look for them to help us make plays and help us move the ball up the field."

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could use a variety of personnel to combat the Patriots' young tight ends, including linebacker Sean Lee and his safeties. Backup cornerbacks Alan Ball and Frank Walker have also helped in the slot, where Hernandez operates some.

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