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Hernandez confirms he gifted 85 to the new guy

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  July 30, 2011 11:54 AM

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Tight end Aaron Hernandez, after sitting out the first two days of practice, returned today and looked like his old self after having off-season hip surgery.

That's a big development, but it was pushed to the back burner because there was something about him giving up his number, 85, to one of the newest Patriots, receiver Chad Ochocinco. Hernandez confirmed he asked for nothing in return and was more than happy to take 81, his college number.

"Chad Ochocinco came to the team and he’s a great player and I had a chance to get my college number back and he obviously wanted 85, and it wasn’t a problem," Hernandez said. "So I thought he deserved it and should get it."

You didn’t want to hold it for ransom?

I don’t know, we’re playing at a high level so all of us have a decent amount of money but I definitely should have. But I didn’t. It was just a welcome-to-the-team, I’m glad to have him. Hopefully we get some big things out him this year like everybody else. I thought he might look better and play better in 85 because that’s his last name so why not give it to him?

Was he surprised at the generosity?

I don’t know. As soon as he came in I saw him smiling, I knew he was going to talk to me about the number. I already knew as soon as they took him that there was a chance he would want the number. I obviously could have been like, ‘No, I don’t want to give it up,’ but I’m not that kind of person. There was the 81 jersey that I wanted when I came here but (Randy) Moss had it so it actually worked out perfect.

How did you get it from undrafted Jeremy Ross?

Um….I wasn’t giving up 85 unless I could get a decent number.

How are you feeling?

I’m doing good. I feel good. And I feel ready to play.

You looked good out there, what was the issue the previous 2 days, just taking it slow?

Just taking it slow, making sure I’m healthy because of the lockout. They weren’t keeping an eye on me so they really didn’t know where I was at. But I feel good, I’m ready to go.

Happy with the way the rehab went?

I just took it day by day and tried to heal and get ready for the season.

Everything moving at a pretty fast pace after the lockout?

It’s probably a little fast for the rookies. Last year was actually slow for us because we had so much time. For me, I kind of already know the system so it’s kind of slow for me.

Any lingering issues with the hip or is it settled now?

I’m not a doctor but I hope so.

What kind of role did TE Alge Crumpler play in your development?

Alge was definitely a great leader and person that I would want in my locker room or meeting room. He’s definitely going to be a loss, but he’s a great player and you’ve got to move on.

How is the chemistry with rookie Lee Smith?

A good player. Just like everyone on this team, we all have a lot to learn and I’m sure it will be fine.

Happy to have Ochocinco in the offense?

Sure. Now they’ve got another person to focus on so other people have to make plays.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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