The New England Patriots could be without tight end Aaron Hernandez for the next four months, according to ESPN. Hernandez had surgery on his shoulder earlier this offseason, and could be ready to go by the time the Patriots open their regular season on Sept. 8. However, there's a chance he could begin the year on the physically unable to perform list if rehab doesn't go as smoothly as expected.
The Patriots are in a tough spot when it comes to their tight ends. Both Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are dealing with major injuries, and Gronkowski has already experienced major setbacks in his recovery. The explosive tight end had surgery to repair a forearm that was broken twice this past year, and needed a third procedure after the arm became infected.
If both Gronkowski and Hernandez can't play when the regular season rolls around, the spotlight will be on Jake Ballard. The third year pro missed all of 2012 after he tore his ACL playing against the Patriots for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, and was claimed off waivers last June. He caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns for the Giants in 2011.