Pats' schemes without Gronkowski

Without Aaron Hernandez, New England needs Rob Gronkowski to get healthy more than ever. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

As the trend of NFL offenses featuring two tight ends continues to ascend, the team that promoted the concept just a few years ago is facing the prospect of starting the 2013 regular season without both of the players that set the personnel group into motion.

The New England Patriots cut ties with tight end Aaron Hernandez last week, and Rob Gronkowski is uncertain to be on the field when the team travels to Buffalo in Week 1 due to his recovery from both back and forearm surgeries this offseason.

Gronkowski will be back at some point this season -- that much we feel confident in. But how soon is another question, and the Patriots will have to prepare for the possibility of a Gronk-less offense (even if only for a week) to start the year.