Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could miss as many as four months as he recovers from a shoulder surgery he underwent in the off-season.
According to a report by The Boston Globe, Hernandez, 23, had a “minor scope” procedure done on his shoulder in early April and is currently rehabbing in California.
He is likely to miss the Partriot’s OTAs as well as the team’s mini-camp in June, the Globe notes.
Though it is unclear when Hernandez suffered the shoulder injury, sources say it bothered the athlete throughout the 2012-2013 season, his third with the Patriots.
Hernandez had agreed to a long-term contract extension through the 2018 season before the season began.
Despite the downtime, Aaron is expected to be fully healthy by the time the regular season kicks off on September 8.
Hernandez isn’t the Patriots’ only star tight end to undergo surgery this offseason, as Rob Gronkowski had multiple procedures done to repair his broken left forearm suffered in November 2012.
In early April rumors circulated that Gronkowski would be forced to go under the knife for a third time after developing an infection in the arm.
However, Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said that the reports were exaggerated and there were plans for another surgery yet.
In three seasons, Hernandez has 175 receptions for 1,956 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.
2011 was Hernandez’ most successful campaign, appearing in 14 games, while racking up 910 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Combined with Gronkowski, the team’s two tight ends accounted for over 100 catches and 16 touchdowns last season.
The Patriots began their voluntary offseason strength and conditioning program on Monday, and the first OTA is scheduled for May 20.
Should Hernandez and Gronkowski both be unable to go when the regular season rolls around, the Patriots are likely to turn to third year pro, Jake Ballard.
Ballard, who missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL, caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns for the Giants in 2011.