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Hernandez considers himself a tight end. After all, how many wide receivers weigh as much as he does?

But he also can line up in the slot or the backfield.

“What they’re doing with that personnel group is awfully impressive,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said, “They’ve always been a great passing team, but to add the number of explosive plays really jumped out at you. When (Hernandez) starts moving around and is in the slot like that … he’s capable of being an explosive wide receiver.

“He’s a matchup problem for defensive teams.”

With two versatile tight ends, the Patriots can be more diverse on offense, lining players up in spots that can confuse the defense and running complex patterns into open areas.

“You can move them around and give them different assignments and they’re able to handle that,” New England coach Bill Belichick said, “but that’s part of the nature of the tight end position, I think. Whether you’re talking about Gates or (Miami’s Anthony) Fasano or whoever we play next. That’s what most teams do.

“Maneuvering those guys around, putting them in different positions, having them do different things, that’s what creates problems for the defense.”

Opponents also must concentrate on wide receivers Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco, and running back Danny Woodhead on pass patterns. That also helps Gronkowski and Hernandez get free.

“It opens a lot for me because they’ll forget about me or forget about Gronkowski,” Hernandez said. “I’d say Gronk can really do everything. He could block any type of (defensive) end. He could get open versus anybody. He’s very dynamic and can do so much.

“I’m limited in the blocking game but I’m improving. I’m more of a receiving-type tight end. We work off each other. Because we’re both so different, it gets us both open a lot.”

So far, so good.