In case you didn’t notice the Patriots lost a Pro Bowler in last week’s 13-10 win over the New York Jets.
But with players like Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola on the shelf the injury to Matthew Slater who is out 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist has fallen under the radar. That’s certainly not the case at Gillette Stadium.

Named a special teams captain for the third straight season Slater is one of the best gunners in the NFL. The 28-year-old is well respected in the Patriots locker room and was named to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons.

Members of the Patriots say they’ll have to work together to make up for his absence.

“Obviously it’s a huge loss” Kyle Arrington said. “It’s the game we play. Teams have to deal with injuries all the time so everybody is just going to have to band together pull their weight and try their best to make up for such a terrific talent.”

Special teams is an often overlooked aspect of football but Bill Belichick and his staff put a big emphasis on the unit especially as it pertains to field position. And each time the Patriots kick off or punt Slater excels in getting down field and taking on the returner. He led the Pats with 20 special team tackles last season.

Players like Arrington (nine special team tackles in 2012) Nate Ebner (17) Marquice Cole (seven) and Devin McCourty have also filled the gunner role for the Pats on occasion. But both Cole and Ebner said that one player can’t replace Slater.