- It Is What It Is - http://itiswhatitis.weei.com -

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

FOXBORO — The Patriots have been through this before. Rob Gronkowski [1] 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 [2].

‘€œIt’€™s hard to replace a player like him because he’€™s a freak of nature,” Aaron Hernandez [3] 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.

‘€œIt 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 [4], with eight catches and 131 yards, 120 of them coming in the first half. Shane Vereen [5] stepped up with a record-tying performance as he had three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing).

‘€œHe’€™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.

‘€œIt’€™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.’€