Nothing like suspension to remind NFL who's indispensable – News & Observer

Anyone can see just how much the Dallas Cowboys desperately miss Ezekiel Elliott.

Now the New England Patriots will get a reminder of life without Tom Brady’s favorite target when Rob Gronkowski sits out his own suspension Monday night in Miami.

“He’s a big focal point in our offense,” Brady said of Gronk. “I mean, I think when he gets going, it’s great for everybody, so it’s been great having him in there this year. He’s worked really hard and he’s a great player. I love playing with him. We’ve got a great rapport.”

Yes, even Brady has a teammate who makes him better.

And every NFL team has that one player that makes everything click, someone with so much ability and leadership who makes everyone else better, too. Or, in the case of tail-ending teams, a player who stands above the mess.

Sure, the quarterback is the most important, touching the ball every snap on offense. But take Mr. Indispensable off the field, and nothing works quite the same.

Nobody knows that better than Dallas, 1-3 since Elliott started serving his suspension and putting a serious crimp in the Cowboys’ postseason plans. Dallas finally ended the skid last week, beating Washington. Surviving and staying in the playoff hunt until Dec. 24 when Elliott returns against Seattle may not be possible without what he brings to the field.

Washington linebacker Zach Brown says it’s easy to see on film just how different the Cowboys are without Elliott’s speed and ability to score on any carry.

“Now everybody’s forcing them to pass the ball,” Brown said.

Gronkowski leads the Patriots with 55 catches and seven touchdowns , and he just turned in his best game this season with nine catches for 147 yards. But his late hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious

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