FOXBORO -- Tom Brady knows exactly what he'll be missing Thursday night.
"There's only one Rob Gronkowski," he said of the injured tight end. "There's only one of those in the league."
But the quarterback's Tuesday message was clear: New England will carry on.
"Other guys just have to step into that spot and do a job, that's what it comes down to," he said. "That's football and every team deals with it at one point or another. He's a tough guy to replace, but that's what we need to do."
Though "replace" was the word Brady chose, it's not quite what he meant. Other Patriots players will play the position, swapping body-for-body, but nobody is expecting Gronkowski's production to be replicated exactly.
For the record, he had six catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns the last time New England faced the Jets.
Brady pointed out that different tight ends have different strengths and weaknesses. It's his job as quarterback to elevate the strengths.
"You know the guys that are going to be in there playing that roll -- Visanthe Shiancoe, and Michael Hoomanawanui, and Daniel Fells -- they have to go out there and do the best they can do. That's why they're on the team, that's why we have 53 guys on the roster so everybody can contribute in one way or another."
That's where the book closed on Gronkowski. Brady diverted every other question about the tight end back to New England's next game.
With such a short week, there's simply no time to think about anything else.
"I just, honestly . . . I've been thinking about the Jets," he said with a smile. "I haven't been thinking about when he's coming back. He's not playing this week, so we've got to go out there and win without him. There's a lot of guys that are capable of making plays for us, and that's where my attention is focused -- on the guys that are going to try to help us win this game."