Once a strength, TE now question mark for Pats

Associated Press + More

By HOWARD ULMAN, Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots seemed set for years with their young, record-breaking tight end combination.

Aaron Hernandez ran around defenders after making catches. Rob Gronkowski ran over them. They were stars before they were 23.

It was one position coach Bill Belichick could rely on, but not anymore.

Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder. He was released by the Patriots. Gronkowski is recovering from back surgery, his fifth operation since he broke his left forearm in November, and may not be ready for the start of the season.

One possibility at tight end might be Tim Tebow. The Patriots signed the quarterback on June 11 and he has the size and speed to play tight end. Belichick hasn't said what role Tebow will fill.

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