Report: Aaron Hernandez will play for Patriots on Thanksgiving

Aaron Hernandez's absence from the Patriots lineup for the last few weeks has been frustrating. But when Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm on Sunday, the prospect of Tom Brady missing both of his tight-end targets was downright terrifying.

But it appears Hernandez will be back on Thursday when New England plays the Jets on Thanksgiving. Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that "barring any late setbacks," Hernandez should be good to go for the Pats.

Hernandez was somewhat of a surprise scratch on Sunday against Indianapolis. But there were rumors (supported by sound logic) that the Patriots simply didn't want to force the tight end to try and play two games in the span of five days.

That seems like a pretty brilliant idea in the wake of Gronk's injury: New England rolled up the Colts 59-24 and didn't even need to consider activating Hernandez, who hasn't played since Week 7 ... also against the Jets.

Hernandez was targeted seven times by Brady and caught five passes for 54 yards. In the same game, Gronk caught six passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns, so it's likely that Hernandez will see a nice little bump in statistics if he's anything near 100 percent.

The additional benefit of holding Hernandez out against the Colts is that the Thursday Thanksgiving game gives the tight end a 10-day window to rest between the Jets game and the Pats Dec. 2 game in Miami.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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