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Aaron Hernandez: ‘Hard to replace a freak of nature’ in Rob Gronkowski

01.13.13 at 11:23 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez breaks free for a 40-yard pass play in the third quarter. (AP)

Aaron Hernandez breaks free for a 40-yard pass play in the third quarter. (AP)

FOXBORO — The Patriots have been through this before. Rob Gronkowski is likely lost for the playoffs after re-breaking his left forearm in Sunday’s 41-28 win over the Texans in an AFC divisional game at Gillette Stadium.

“It’s hard to replace a player like him because he’s a freak of nature,” Aaron Hernandez said afterward. “Everyone has to step up and everyone has to keep making plays so we can keep it rolling.”

Hernandez was one Patriots offensive player to step up, contributing with a 40-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter that led to a touchdown that put the Patriots up, 24-13, and put the Patriots on their way. Hernandez finished with six catches for 85 yards.

“It definitely helps me out because so much attention is on him,” Hernandez said. “But like I said, everyone has to step up. It’s a big loss and you can’t replace a player like him.”

Also, stepping up after the first-quarter injury to Gronk was Wes Welker, with eight catches and 131 yards, 120 of them coming in the first half. Shane Vereen stepped up with a record-tying performance as he had three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing).

“He’s done it in practice and he’s the person that works hard and does his job,” Hernandez said of Vereen. “When his number was called, he made a play and showed what type of player he is tonight.”

Now, it’s on to the Ravens and a rematch of last season’s AFC championship.

“It’s an honor,” Hernandez said. “We still have one more to go to get to the big dance. So we’ve got to keep playing and come to play next week.”

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Gronk, houston texans, New England Patriots
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