One of this week’s NFL rumors is that New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will be returning for the team’s week six matchup in Seattle. Hernandez suffered an ankle injury during the Patriots first home game against the Arizona Cardinals. The return of Hernandez would be a big boost to a Patriots offense that has been dealt several key injuries this season.
Going into 2012 the Patriots planned on continuing the tight end based offense that was so successful in 2011. But in order to carry out that style, they needed both star tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez. So when Hernandez went down to injury, the offense was forced to adjust. The Patriots went to a high-paced, no-huddle offense that focused on three receiver sets rather than the duel tight end formations that had become commonplace with the Patriots.
Hernandez’s return will allow the Patriots to return to their more comfortable style of offense. Following the injury, the Patriots signed former Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. in an attempt to continue their successful system. But the oft-injured player soon asked to be released and his request was granted. The team has yet to find a tight end with the capabilities of Hernandez but it looks as though they may not need to search any longer.
Hernandez’s return will also be a boost to morale for the Patriots offense. After losing two Pro Bowl offensive linemen during the offseason, the Patriots have been dealt several injuries to key players. Last week against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots were missing running back Shane Vereen, offensive guard Logan Mankins, wide receiver Julian Edelman, all in addition to Hernandez. This makes the Patriots offensive output this season all the more impressive.
The Patriots are hoping that Hernandez’s return next week will be the start of several returns to the Patriots offense. While the team leads the league in yards and points, it’s been a tough task without several key players. After months of bad luck on the injury front, this news could be a positive turn in the team’s fortune.