Belichick sheds little light on Hernandez's injury

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Aaron Hernandez confuses defenses by lining up at various positions in the New England offense. They won't have to worry about that for a while.

There's no firm timetable for his return so soon after he suffered a right ankle injury on Sunday, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn't saying how long he expects one of his most valuable players to be sidelined.

"No," was all he said Monday when asked if he had any preliminary idea of how long Hernandez would be out.

Asked if Hernandez had broken any bones, Belichick said, "I don't really have any update on his status. I think they're still looking at him."

One thing is certain: losing the lesser heralded part of the Patriots' outstanding tight-end tandem with Rob Gronkowski allows defenses to devote more attention to other players — Gronkowski and wide receivers Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.

It will be up to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to make changes to get his players ready for Sunday night's game against the stingy Baltimore Ravens (1-1).

"That's his job. My job as a player is to do what I'm asked to do," Edelman said Monday. Hernandez "is a great player, but I've got to focus on what I have to do to help contribute to this team."

Hernandez was hurt just past the midpoint of the first quarter of the Patriots' 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. He was blocking for Edelman, who landed on Hernandez's right ankle while being tackled after catching a short pass on the left side. After spending several minutes on the ground, Hernandez was helped off the field to be examined. After the game, he left Gillette Stadium wearing a protective boot and carrying crutches.

ESPN.com reported that Hernandez would not play Sunday night and that, while there is no exact timetable, he likely will not return until October at the earliest. Other reports said X-rays showed no broken bones. The Patriots (1-1) provided no update on his condition.

"It's terrible to see one of your better players go down, one of your best players," Edelman said. "It's unfortunate, but we're going to have to move on and hopefully he gets back quick."

Hernandez caught 79 passes last season, seven for touchdowns. He also rushed five times for 45 yards. Gronkowski had better numbers — 90 receptions for 17 touchdowns and an NFL-record for tight ends of 1,327 yards receiving. He's also a better blocker.

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