Rob Gronkowski’s status for Monday night’s New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills matchup remains unclear, but Bills coach Sean McDermott seems confident the All-Pro tight end will be active.
He also sounds extremely wary of the Patriots’ offense, which has racked up 38, 38, 43 and 38 points in New England’s last four games.
“They’ve got a ton of weapons,” McDermott said Thursday in a conference call with New England reporters. “I feel like their weapons this year outnumber the weapons they’ve had in recent years. With Gronk probably playing in our game, they’ll be at full strength.”
That’s high praise considering last year’s Patriots team featured the likes of Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis, and McDermott’s view illustrates just how much New England’s offense has improved over the last month.
The introduction of Josh Gordon, return of Julian Edelman and emergence of rookie running back Sony Michel — who likely will miss some time with a knee injury he suffered Sunday — have energized a unit that failed to crack 30 points in any of its first three games and scored a season-low 10 in a Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions.
With Gordon and Edelman now leading the receiving corps, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett have been able to slide back into complementary roles, for which they are better suited.
“They’ve got a full crew of guys that they continue to roll through,” McDermott said, “and those guys could probably start on any team out there.”
Gronkowski, who returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Sunday’s game and Wednesday’s practice with a back injury, has dominated the Bills throughout his career, catching 98 passes for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 meetings. The Buffalo-area native actually is off to a slow start this season, though, tallying just one touchdown catch in six games.
Arguably the Patriots’ top offensive weapon this season has been James White, who is on pace to set NFL records for receptions (45 so far) and touchdown catches (six) by a running back.
McDermott’s own offense is in desperate need of a spark. The Bills, who will be led Monday by career backup quarterback Derek Andeson, rank dead last in scoring average (11.3 points per game) through seven games and last in nearly every passing category, including completion percentage, yards per game, yards per attempt, touchdown passes, interceptions and passer rating.
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