There is a lot of hubbub concerning when New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will return from injury.
Hernandez, who injured his ankle in the Patriots' 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, has been out the last couple of weeks and is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network.
But, the reality is, the Patriots have done just fine without him.
You can talk about how much Hernandez meant to the Patriots last season all you want, but, the fact of the matter is, New England has scored a combined 82 points in the last two weeks with him sidelined. This is a different season and the Patriots have adjusted to his loss quite nicely.
Now, that doesn't mean he doesn't make the Patriots more dangerous on offense, but, the reality is, there is nothing wrong with New England's passing attack at the moment, with or without the Pro Bowler.
Even if you throw out the Patriots' 52-28 blowout of the dreadful Buffalo Bills last week (in which Tom Brady went 22-of-36 for 340 yards and three touchdowns), there was still nothing wrong with the offense in the 31-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.
Will Hernandez's absence affect the Patriots' offense vs. the Broncos?
In that game, Brady went 28-of-41 for 335 yards and a touchdown, despite running backs Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead combining to average 2.5 yards per carry. He spread the ball around to eight different receivers, with Wes Welker (eight catches, 142 yards) and Brandon Lloyd (nine catches, 108 yards) being the prime beneficiaries.
The Broncos' pass defense has actually been pretty solid this season, allowing just 6.8 yards per attempt (fourth in the AFC) while notching 10 sacks (tied for fifth in the conference).
But that may not matter against a passing offense that appears to be clicking on all cylinders, running game or not. Brady has enough weapons without Hernandez to still put a lot of points on the board (including that other tight end, Rob Gronkowski).
So far this season, Hernandez's presence has been irrelevant to the Patriots' success.