Cameron Larkin .com

Is Rob Gronkowski the Patriots most important player in Super Bowl XLVI?

If there is one player the New England Patriots want on the field this Sunday when they play the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI it’s Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots tight end injured his left ankle in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens and has since missed three consecutive practices leading up to the final and most significant game of the year.

New Englandhead coach Bill Belichick classified Gronkowski as “day to day”. Gronkowski has said that he would be “ready to go.”

The 6’6’’ former Universityof Arizonastar is right up there with quarterback Tom Brady when talking about a player’s importance to his team. In his second year of pro football, Gronkowski has had a stellar year that saw him rank 5th in the NFL in receptions and 6th in reception yards per game, 6th in yards, and 1st overall in touchdowns.

If you’re still struggling to come to terms that I put the tight end in the same sentence with Brady, take note of this. The Patriots have two or more tight ends in the game on 80 per cent of their plays.

The Patriots rely heavily on Gronkowski – mainly because he is an awesome athlete and a nightmare of a matchup for the defense and partly due toNew Englandnot having a backup on their roster.

Gronkowski’s importance is also reflected in the betting market. He is third favourite to be named Super Bowl MVP – behind Brady and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Heading into the 2011-12 season Gronkowski was ranked equal 13th for his position, the same as his tight end teammate Aaron Hernandez (Antonio Gates in San Diego ranked 1st) – today, he is right up there with the likes of Gates and Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley.

The Patriots tight end has proven he has a pair of reliable hands as a receiver and is a solid and very effective runner of the routes. He knows how to find the gaps in the defensive zones and for a man with his dimensions, Gronkowski is deceptive athleticism.

In their regular season matchup, Gronkowski caught eight balls for 101 yards and a touchdown.New Yorkwon that week nine thriller in the last minute of the game, a game that Tom Brady threw two critical interceptions and would rather forget.

If the Giants are two win the second matchup, they will need to come up with a way to shut down Gronkowski. If they can’t stop him then they need to at least try to limit his influence on the match.

Mathias Kiwanuka, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant will need to be at their absolute best to have an impact of Gronkowski. That’s how good and important he is.

Deon Grant showed in the week nine matchup that he could contain Gronkowski – he will need to do the same this weekend. Grant, a safety in the Giants secondary, covered Gronkowski on five throws each between 13to yards – all incomplete. We will most likely see Grant gain more field time in the Bowl game to be, as one ESPN analyst called him, the ‘Gronk-buster.’

Question to the fans: Will the Giants defense stop Gronkowski in Super Bowl XLVI or will he tear the game apart?

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