The New England Patriots use their tight ends as a part of the passing game more than any other team in the league. This unique game plan is based around their two Pro Bowl tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. On Sunday, the Patriots lost one of those star tight ends to injury and one of this week’s NFL rumors is that he will be out for an extended period of time.
Early in the first quarter of the Patriots 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Hernandez went down with an ankle injury. After being helped back to the locker room by the team’s medical staff, Hernandez was taken away from the stadium using the assistance of crutches and a walking boot. It’s currently unknown how long he will be out but he had an MRI on Monday to determine that.
While the Patriots won’t know how long he will be out until they get the results of the MRI back, it doesn’t look good. Hernandez is not a player that likes to be taken out of games so the fact that he left the field with assistance was a bad sign. It was a further bad sign that he left the stadium during the game with crutches and the walking boot.
Hernandez’s absence will be a significant one for the Patriots. While the team was expected to be a more wide receiver oriented team after signing Brandon Lloyd, they have stayed with their tight end focused offense. The duel threat of Gronkowski and Hernandez was something teams had trouble with in 2011. Now the Patriots will need someone to step up and take Hernandez’s place as a go-to tight end. Who will take over that role will be something to watch for when the New England Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday night.