Aaron Hernandez hurts ankle Prognosis unknown for star TE By Jeff Howe / Patriots Notebook Monday, September 17, 2012 - Updated 3 hours ago
FOXBORO — Yesterday’s home opener didn’t end well for the Patriots [team stats], but it surely didn’t start great, either.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension last month, injured his right ankle during the Patriots’ third offensive play of their 20-18 loss to the Cardinals. Hernandez had a high walking boot and crutches when he departed from Gillette Stadium.
Signs pointed toward the injury being a sprain, though the severity was still unknown, according to a source. It’s unclear how long Hernandez will be out of action. The source also said the ankle was not broken.
“Hopefully he’s fine,” sidekick Rob Gronkowski said. “(He is) a great player, and we need him.”
Hernandez was hurt when he lined up wide to the left and blocked for Julian Edelman, who caught a screen pass in the slot and turned up the field for a 6-yard gain. Edelman rolled into the back of Hernandez’ leg, and the tight end stayed down for a couple of minutes before two trainers helped him to the locker room.
The Patriots struggled without Hernandez, though it’s impossible to measure how much his absence truly affected their sputtering offense, which didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. Hernandez caught six passes for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Titans in the season opener, and his role continued to evolve as he was used all across the offense.
Aaron Hernandez will have an MRI on his right ankle Monday. The MRI is likely to confirm the suspected high ankle sprain. Hernandez couldn't put any weight on his right foot as he left the field Sunday and was spotted on crutches and in a walking boot in the locker room. ProFootballTalk.com has already reported that Hernandez could miss up to six weeks.
A source tells the NFL Network that Aaron Hernandez is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a low ankle sprain. This jibes with earlier reports from ProFootballTalk.com and ESPN Boston. If Hernandez returns in exactly a month, he'd be back for a Week 6 matchup with the Seahawks. If he misses the full six weeks, he's looking at Week 8 against the Rams. Note that the Patriots' bye is looming in Week 9. Hernandez, 22, does have youth on his side as he embarks on his rehab. We're not dropping him as he still projects as a difference-maker well before the fantasy playoffs. Source: NFL.com Sep 18 - 9:27 AM
Aaron Hernandez idea in play By Jeff Howe / Patriots Notebook Saturday, October 6, 2012 - Updated 3 hours ago
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick and the Patriots [team stats] did a perfect job setting up a guessing game in relation to Aaron Hernandez’ availability for tomorrow’s game against the Denver Broncos.
Hernandez has missed two games with a sprained ankle, and it’s still believed he needs additional time to recover. However, he participated during the team’s last two practices on a limited basis and has been more of a presence during the media portion of locker room access, walking around without much of an indication that he’s any different from the guy who caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Obviously, an ability to maneuver about the locker room and on the field are two starkly different things, but the Patriots made sure Hernandez displayed his progress this week. It doesn’t mean he’ll play tomorrow, but it does mean the Broncos had to spend time thinking about the possibility.
“Good to see him back out there of course, always,” Belichick said. “We’ll just take it day-to-day and see where we end up here.”
Hernandez’ actual practice time has been kept under wraps as if it were a measure of national security, but that’s a matter of gamesmanship. The “limited” tag could mean anything between participating in one play and only taking one rep off. He ran a few routes during Thursday’s media access, and he limped after the first one but crisply stutter-stepped, planted and turned for the ball during the last rep.