High hopes were set for the 2013 New England Patriots with the thought that both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez would be healthy and on the field contributing for Tom Brady and the offense; it now appears that those plans are coming to an abrupt end.

Gronkowski has undergone his fifth surgery, this time on his back, leaving him doubtful to start the season at tight end; and it also sheds some doubt on his viability as the long-term (healthy) anchor of this receiving corps.

Hernandez has found himself in hot water with the law, and that water seems to be reaching a boil in a hurry. Even if his name is cleared of any direct legal entanglements, it is not looking good for his relationship with the NFL and perhaps even the Patriots front office if there is any real connection with the shooting incidents that have come to light.

So now it is time for Bill Belichick to work his magic, and he just happens to have a few tricks up his sleeve -- almost as if he knew something was going to put a wrinkle in Plan A for 2013.