Aaron Hernandez appears to be out for the Patriots' Sunday game in London. Hernandez did not make the trip to London, NFL.com confirmed, though there remain some rumors that he could make the trip late and play.
Hernandez has been dealing with an ankle sprain for several weeks. He was able to play in the Pats' last two games, but was clearly limited in many ways by the injury. Hernandez had little burst and had issues coming out of hard cuts. Even so, he was relatively productive, catching a touchdown in Week 6 and getting five catches in Week 7. The increased snap count (56) last week was thought to be a positive sign, but there was apparently an issue with recovery more than any discrete setback.
With a bye week following the overseas trip, the Pats may be trying to chain together off weeks in hopes of healing up Hernandez fully. (Unconfirmed reports are floating that Hernandez's girlfriend is expecting their child this week and that Hernandez could make the trip once that occurs.) Having Hernandez paired up with another injured tight end -- Rob Gronkowski is dealing with a chronic hip issue that will likely require offseason surgery -- is key to the Pats' hopes.
The Pats have dealt with Hernandez's limitations over the past couple weeks, so don't expect any major changes to their offensive plan. Wes Welker will be the top target, with Gronkowski taking a few more looks, especially in the red zone. TE3 Daniel Fells only received a couple targets in the weeks that Hernandez was out, so he remains a poor fantasy option.