INDIANAPOLIS --- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is the ultimate match-up nightmare in the NFL.
Put a linebacker on him? Probably too slow. Put a safety on him? Probably not strong enough. Put a cornerback on him? Weakens your secondary to cover their other receivers.
So what can the Colts do against a man that has 58 touchdowns in 69 career games and four touchdowns in three games against the Colts since 2012?
"You try to get hands on him as much as you can, but they do a good job of using him all over the field," said inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson Wednesday. "They line him all over the field so they do different things with him. We just have to be aware of where he is and get hands on him. With a talented player like him, you can't stop him, all you can do is try and contain him."
In the AFC Championship Game, Gronkowski had only 3 receptions on 8 targets for 28 yards but did score a touchdown. That touchdown wasn't on Colts top cornerback Vontae Davis though, who did cover him in another goal line situation in the playoff game.
In the regular season meeting, safety Sergio Brown drew the assignment on most of the snaps, but Brown is on the Jaguars now.
"We know he's an aggressive player. You just have to be aggressive and play your game," said safety Mike Adams Wednesday, who intercepted Tom Brady twice during the regular season loss to New England last year. "He's going to get his catches. You can only limit him. He's a great player, and there's not much you can do to a guy his size and his stature."
6'6" and 265 pounds with his speed says it all on the field. No free releases off the line of scrimmage for Gronkowski seems to be a theme you hear around the NFL when talking about covering him.
What gets overlooked in the boxscores though is his prowess as a run blocker as well, a major point of emphasis for the Colts defense after the past three meetings with New England.
"It's all hands on deck," said Head Coach Chuck Pagano Wednesday. "He is a match-up nightmare. You have to pick and choose and try to change up...unique, unique, unique player."
It will be one of the many moves in the chess match Sunday night that will be fascinating to watch from the first defensive snap.
Where is 87, and who is covering him?