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Patriots notebook

Hernandez recovering from hip surgery

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / February 22, 2011

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Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez showed up to speak to kids at his older brother’s football skills camp on crutches, and it didn’t take long for the astute campers to ask him why.

Turns out, Hernandez had surgery on his right hip.

His health was the first query Hernandez fielded during a 10-minute question-and-answer session with about 80 campers at Southington High in his home state of Connecticut over the weekend.

Hernandez’s appearance at the camp — and his surgery — was first reported by the Hartford Courant.

The procedure helps correct an injury that popped up toward the end of last season. Hernandez first showed up on the injury report because of the hip in Week 16, after his two-touchdown performance against Green Bay the week before. He missed practices and the final two games of the regular season, but he did play in the playoff game against the Jets.

According to Comcast SportsNet New England, Hernandez’s surgery was similar to the one Bruins goalie Tim Thomas underwent last year.

D.J. Hernandez, Aaron’s older brother, played quarterback and wide receiver at UConn and is now coach at Southington High. The skills camp was for kids in grades 3 through 8 and Aaron was all too happy to help.

“It’s just good to give back to the community,’’ he told the Courant. “It’s good to give back to the kids in Southington and it works out for my brother. I love kids, I know it’s going to make the kids’ day with me coming here, and so, why not?’’

After recording 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns in his first NFL season, Hernandez is looking to improve heading into Year 2.

“You’ve always got to make changes,’’ he said. “You can’t be the same player two years in a row. You’ve got to be better every year, and there will be something that the coaches will tell me I need to work on, so I’ll make sure to get it done.’’

Hobbs all done? After Ellis Hobbs sustained a serious neck injury during a difficult-to-watch kick return collision in October, there were whispers the Eagles cornerback might retire. Now it appears he will.

In an NFC East offseason look on FoxSports.com, Adam Caplan wrote that the former Patriot likely will be forced to call it a career at just 27 years old.

The neck injury Hobbs suffered against the Giants is higher up than the one he sustained during the 2009 season that required surgery and caused him to miss the final nine games.

After the helmet-to-helmet hit from New York defensive end Dave Tollefson, Hobbs crumpled to the grass on his stomach and stayed down for several minutes. He was taken off on a stretcher, giving the crowd a thumbs-up.

Caplan cited a source who said the injury will end Hobbs’s career after six seasons.

Hobbs did some work with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia after his injury and apparently impressed, though that is not a surprise. During his time with New England, Hobbs was a media favorite, often frank and not afraid to give his opinion.

Hobbs is remembered for two plays with the Patriots: his NFL-record 108-yard kickoff return at the Meadowlands in 2007, and for covering Plaxico Burress when Burress caught the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.

After four seasons with the Patriots, who made him a third-round draft pick in 2005, Hobbs was traded to Philadelphia on draft weekend 2009 for two fifth-round picks. New England used the picks on guard Rich Ohrnberger, who has played in two games, and long snapper Jake Ingram, who was released midway through last season.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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