Aaron Hernandez: Patriots TE Expected to Return from Ankle Injury vs. Seahawks

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots practices before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The red-hot New England Patriots are going to get a big boost Sunday, as star tight end Aaron Hernandez is expected to return against Seattle after being sidelined with an ankle injury for the last three weeks, according to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe:

Hernandez's role is to be determined based on how he feels on Sunday, but it's likely to be in a limited role. The Patriots prefer to slowly reintegrate players coming off major injuries in a platoon-type role.

Fantasy owners probably don't like hearing that Hernandez is likely to be used in a "limited role," but they should be thrilled just to see him get back on the field.  

The Patriots were one of the few teams in the NFL with enough depth at the tight end and wide receiver positions to sustain the loss of a player like Hernandez without missing a beat. 

It did take time for the offense to find its rhythm without Hernandez, but they have so much talent that they found their footing and look better than ever.

One of the biggest differences with the Patriots now and when Hernandez went down is balance. The passing game is still there, as Wes Welker has emerged from his early-season struggles to look like the player everyone expected him to be.

However, the Patriots are running the ball a lot more now that they have found a tandem that works in Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden.

Adding Hernandez back to an already potent offense will make the Patriots that much more lethal. As Bedard says, don't expect instant results since Hernandez is likely to be used sparingly, but when he gets his feet back under him, the sky is the limit for this offense.