New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will be unable to participate in mini-camp or OTAs as he had shoulder surgery earlier in the offseason, according to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. While he is expected to miss all spring activities, the expectation is that Hernandez will be able to re-join the team in time for training camp.
Hernandez, 23, was the second of two tight ends taken by the Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft, and has largely played second fiddle to Rob Gronkowski. In three seasons, Gronkowski has caught 38 touchdown passes, the most of any NFL player over that span, while Hernandez has 18 touchdown receptions.
With both tight ends in recovery, the Patriots have some question marks now surrounding a position that has been considered their strongest in recent years. Although the team addressed the depth of the position in 2012 by signing Michael Hoomanawanui and Kellen Winslow Jr., Winslow played in just one game and Hoomanawanui caught just five passes.
In three seasons with the Patriots, injuries have been a consistent theme for Hernandez, who has missed 10 games with various problems, including a high ankle sprain in 2012. Hernandez has 175 career receptions for 1,956 yards with 18 touchdowns.