As a former GM, I understand how injuries to star players can derail a team.

In Minnesota, we lost top running back Robert Smith to season-ending knee injuries in 1993 and 1995. Scottie Graham filled in effectively, but he was not the big-play threat Smith was. We were a playoff team but not a Super Bowl threat in ’93, and we missed the playoffs for the first time in several years in ’95.

I also know how tough it can be to overcome injuries Cheap Qld School Basketball Jerseys to several players at the same position, as is the case for the Patriots at wide receiver. In 2001, our Titans were coming off a 13-3 season when our secondary was ravaged by a succession of injuries to starters. The result was a disappointing 7-9 season.

The good news for the Patriots is it’s early in the season. Gronkowski will be a bigger force in the weeks ahead than he was in a two-catch, 33 yard performance in his first game since the back surgery that cost him the last six games of the 2016 regular season and playoffs.

One of the touchdowns came on blown coverage that left Tyreek Hill wide open. But the second was a dart that traveled about 40 yards in the air and hit Kareem Hunt perfectly in stride for a 78-yard touchdown.

It’s the kind of play that Smith has a reputation for not making and the kind of play that the Chiefs have severely lacked. It’s part of the reason why 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes looks like such a promising next step for the team.

But Smith made the plays Thursday night, finishing with 368 passing yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was only the third time in his 142-game career he eclipsed 320 Cheap Quality Baseball Jerseys yards and the second time he threw more than three touchdowns.

Attempting just four passes of 20 or more yards — compared to the nine attempts by the Patriots — is indicative of the offensive scheme of the Chiefs, though. Smith capitalizing on his chances downfield is important, but the Kansas City offense will stall if the team can’t open up those shots with success underneath.

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