News that tight end Aaron Hernandez underwent surgery on his right hip after the season (reported by the Hartford Courant) shines the spotlight on his rookie season. Hernandez was productive in finishing with 45 receptions for 563 yards and six touchdowns.
One aspect that stands out was that his year was "front-loaded", both in terms of production and playing time.
First 8 games
Games played: 8
Average snaps/game: 47.0
Last 8 games
Games played: 6
Average snaps/game: 18.3
Hernandez' dip in the second half of the year (starting in Pittsburgh) could have been tied to several factors, from his hip injury, to Rob Gronkowski's steady improvement, to his own performance. This also showed up in the playoff loss to the Jets when he was on the field for 24 snaps, well behind tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Alge Crumpler.
So when assessing Hernandez's overall body of work and areas of improvement for 2011, this figures to be high on the list: Finishing stronger.