FOXBOROUGH — Aaron Hernandez feared the worst.
On the third offensive play of New England’s second game this season, the Patriots tight end was blocking on a short screen pass when his right ankle was rolled up on by a teammate during the ensuing tackle.
Lying on the ground, writhing in pain and clutching his ankle in front of a stunned and silent home crowd, Hernandez believed his once promising season was over before it ever really began.
“Broke,” Hernandez admitted yesterday of the thoughts swirling through his head as he lay on the Gillette Stadium turf a month ago. “But it healed and I’m better now.”
The Patriots and their fans couldn’t be more ecstatic, either.
After missing nearly four full games with what turned out to be a sprained ankle, Hernandez returned to the field Sunday in Seattle, catching six passes for 30 yards and a touchdown in a 24-23 loss to the Seahawks.
“I felt pretty good,” he said during his first session with the media since the injury. “It was good to be back out there and help the team.”
It didn’t take long for quarterback Tom Brady to reincorporate one of his most dangerous weapons back into the offense, connecting with Hernandez for eight yards on the Patriots’ first offensive play of the game.
Welcome back, Aaron.
“When you’re out there on the field, you kind of forget about everything and just hope for the best,” Hernandez said. “Once I caught that first pass, I got back into the game and wanted the ball some more.
“Just happy to be back out there and know that I can get the ball and help them out. It made me happy.”
Of course, hitting the ground running is the only way he knows how to play.