Without Rob Gronkowski, will Patriots rely on running game vs. Steelers? | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

Without Rob Gronkowski, will Patriots rely on running game vs. Steelers?

Tim Benz
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AP
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady smiles as he looks to pass while head coach Bill Belichick looks on during a joint NFL football practice with the Houston Texans, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2016 in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

We head to New England to get a little perspective on the Patriots for Wednesday’s podcast. And a familiar voice provides that for us.

TribLive Radio pioneer Ken Laird joins me. He now works with WEEI in Boston as part of the radio station’s morning show.

Ken tells us how the Steelers are perceived in New England this year versus prior years after they beat the Patriots a season ago. It doesn’t sound like that victory has changed a lot of minds.

One thing that has changed about the Pats is that there is no more Rob Gronkowski. We talk about how the offense will look without Tom Brady’s legendary tight end target on the roster.

The Patriots averaged 5.1 yards per carry in Pittsburgh last year. But they only ran the ball 19 times. Ken and I both think the rushing attempts will increase for New England this year. We explain why.

The New England offensive line is being discussed in Pittsburgh as a point of vulnerability. But I get the impression it’s not as concerning to those who follow the Patriots. We’ll hear how Ken feels about that.

Then there’s the New England defense. How will Bill Belichick deploy his secondary to slow JuJu Smith-Schuster? And will Thomas Jefferson High School product Chase Winovich make the Steelers regret passing on him in the third round of this year’s NFL draft?

Also, what would a discussion about the Patriots be without a good ol’ fashioned conspiracy theory? Ken lays one on us about how Brady keeps his salary so manageable under the salary cap.

It’s a doozy. No, it’s not all about Gisele’s money, either.

All that along with a debate over who is missed less: Ken in Pittsburgh? Or me in Boston?

Hint…. it’s not close.

LISTEN: Tim Benz and former TribLive Radio host Ken Laird discuss how the Steelers are perceived in New England and what the Steelers can expect in season opener

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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