TE Aaron Hernandez checks in

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A teammate of Tim Tebow for three seasons at Florida, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez said Tuesday he was surprised to be reunited with his college quarterback in the NFL.

"Once I heard the information I was a little shocked and I was happy," Hernandez said. "Definitely was a surprise for probably most of us."

Tebow participated in Tuesday's practice solely as a quarterback, but Hernandez said he was unsure of Tebow's role going forward.

"There's a reason why he's here. I actually don't now the reason yet but we'll see," Hernandez said. "I'm sure he'll be doing a few things here. That's up to (coach) Bill Belichick."

Hernandez was limited in Tuesday's practice, the first of a three-day mandatory minicamp, as he continues to rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.

"Shoulder's doing great. Feeling good. Better and better each day," Hernandez said. "(I'm) taking it day-by-day. Because you want to be healthy for the season. You don't want to over-do it now and then have it hurt you for the season."

Greeted after practice by dozens of Boston and New York reporters that had descended on Gillette Stadium, Hernandez said Tebow's arrival might be a bigger spectacle in the eyes of the media than for players.

"Each player is caught up on striving for their personal goals, and trying to get to where they want to be as an athlete," Hernandez said. "A lot of that other stuff, you don't really notice or pay attention to, but from the outside looking in, it looks like a big mess."

In a question that captured that just how much other players will have to deal with Tebow's presence, Hernandez was asked what he said to Tebow upon his arrival, and the tight end gave an almost-too-obvious answer.

"How you doing, Tim?," Hernandez responded, chuckling.

During his recent stint with the New York Jets, Tebow attracted a circus of media attention during his team's 6-10 season.

"If you let the media become a distraction, then that's your fault," Hernandez said. "Obviously in this program we don't let that happen and we just worry about playing football and taking care of ourselves."