Aaron Hernandez Injury: Patriots Offense Will Roll Despite Losing TE Again

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots congratulates teammate tight end Rob Gronkowski #87 on scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during their season opener at LP Field on September 9, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will miss the team’s Week 11 game against the Indianapolis Colts due to a lingering ankle injury, Albert Breer of NFL.com reported on Friday (via Twitter).

Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez is expected to sit out Sunday's game vs. the Colts, I'm told. Been out since mid-October after re-injuring ankle

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 16, 2012

The injury originally happened in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, he’s missed most of the team’s games, although he’s played sporadically. He hasn’t seen the field since the team’s win over the New York Jets on Oct. 21.

In his absence, Bill Belichick has shifted gears and pounded his multi-talented backfield against opposition while taking shots with No. 1 tight end Rob Gronkowski. That, plus the presence of trusty veteran Wes Welker, has helped make up for Hernandez's absence.

Gronk and Welker have combined for 10 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards receiving through 10 weeks.

Ideally, the Pats would like to run their dual-tight end sets, but they’ve done alright in coping with the loss of Hernandez to this point.

Coping is putting it mildly.

Without Hernandez, the team is rolling on a three-game winning streak that’s increased their offensive standing to first in the NFL in points (33.2) and yards per game (430.3).

Indianapolis has been rolling a little bit itself under the leadership of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts have won their last four games and five of their last six.

However, their defense will be tested the most it’s been since the team’s shocking Week 5 upset of the Green Bay Packers. The unit has given up 15 touchdown passes this season and is allowing 7.4 yards per attempt by opposing quarterbacks.

The Colts also aren't very good at taking the ball away. They are tied for dead last with the Dallas Cowboys with just four interceptions all season.

Between the Pats' ability to run the ball and the efficiency of Tom Brady, it’s going to be an onslaught by the Pats this week, Hernandez or not.

Can Luck and his surprising Colts hang with the Pats offense in Foxborough? I think not.

It’s unfortunate that they’ll be without Hernandez again, because he obviously adds another dynamic to the passing game, but the Patriots will be just fine and better for it in the long run by resting him again this week.

Hopefully the team will have him ready for the toughest part of its schedule: Weeks 14 and 15 against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.