Aaron Hernandez changes workouts in hopes of playing 16 games in 2013

AP

With a retooled receiving corps and questions swirling about the fitness of tight end Rob Gronkowski’s surgically repaired forearm, the Patriots have to be hoping for a strong contribution from tight end Aaron Hernandez next season.

The chances of getting one would rise significantly if Hernandez is able to remain in the lineup for all 16 games. He’s never done that in his three NFL seasons and Hernandez has altered his offseason program in hopes of making that outcome more likely.

“Just been training, trying to get my body right, get my strength up so I can have a decent season next year,” Hernandez said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I’d say more attention to specific muscles instead of just doing the basic bench, squat and all that other stuff. I’d say I started a little earlier this year to maybe try to get through 16 games this season. It’s away from everything else — away from my family, my friends, gives me time to focus on football, focus on my main priorities in life.”

Hernandez is in Los Angeles, where he’s been able to work out with Tom Brady a few times during the offseason in order to build on their already strong chemistry. Hernandez told Howe that he has no worries about the changes to the offense as long as Brady’s at the controls and plenty other doubts will likely fade away if Hernandez is able to remain on the field for the entire year.