Going into the annual London game against the St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was expected to be a key component in the team’s passing game. After playing the last two weeks, it was expected that he was healing and would play an expanded role in the offense. But it was revealed Friday morning that Hernandez did not make the trip to London with his teammates.
During the Patriots week two loss against the Arizona Cardinals, Hernandez left with an ankle injury. The extent of the injury was kept a secret from the public per team policy, but they did reveal that it wasn’t broken. Hernandez returned to action for the team’s week six matchup against the Seattle Seahawks playing sparingly and played the next week in the team’s win over the New York Jets.
Hernandez’s return was a welcome sight for the Patriots. While the team still leads the NFL in yards and points without the star tight end, the Patriots create mismatches with every defense with him in the lineup. It looked as though the Patriots were close to getting a healthy Hernandez back, but that now seems to be in doubt.
Due to the Patriots team policy of letting the public know as little as possible about injuries, it’s unknown how severe Hernandez’s injury actually is. Over the last two weeks Hernandez has seen less than half of the team’s snaps. Having Hernandez not take the flight across the Atlantic could be a precautionary measure or it could be worse.
The question for the Patriots is now will they have a healthy Hernandez the remainder of the season. The Patriots offense has sputtered in most of the team’s fourth quarters which has been a concern. That is in addition to the team’s defense which has been its Achilles heel. The Patriots were favored to win the AFC heading into this season and currently lead the AFC East with a record of 4-3. Things could get tough without their star tight end.
Hernandez has been in and out of practices for the Patriots the last few weeks. It likely will not be revealed whether this is a precautionary measure or if Hernandez is legitimately injured until after the Patriots bye week which follows this weekend’s London game. That following week should give an indication whether the Patriots will see a healthy Hernandez at all this year.