Randy Moss is gone.

Amid rumors of growing trouble in the Patriots’ locker room, team management pulled the trigger yesterday, sending the All-Pro wideout — who’s in a contract year — to the Minnesota Vikings.

Of course, what they got in return — a third-round pick — won’t fill the void left by Moss immediately. Here are the guys who need to step up.

WR Brandon Tate

No name came up more yesterday that Tate’s. The second-year man out of North Carolina had a breakout game Monday night at Miami, and figures to take at least some of Moss’ reps. He can do one thing the departed superstar did: Run the fly route with the best of them.

Look to him to try to spread defenses and pull at least a cornerback — and maybe a safety, too — from the short game.


WR Wes Welker

Obvious, right? Not so fast. Welker won’t have the free reign over the middle of the field he’s had in years past; that was created in part by Moss.

Now, No. 83 is going to be the defense’s No. 1 target. How well he handles that determines whether the Pats make the playoffs.

The tight ends

Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski: You’re Wes Welker in 2007. With one total stud left to draw double-coverage, it’s up to the young guys to pick up the slack — and a few dozen catches.
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