The New England Patriots have been short at tight end all season. It seems they may be on the cusp of getting back one of their prized rookies at the position.
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Devin Asiasi Was Back at Practice
Devin Asiasi has made virtually no impact this season, but hopefully, he’s being primed to make something of his rookie season.
Asiasi has been on injured reserve, but he was back at practice on Wednesday and that increases the chances he’ll be returning to the team as soon as this Sunday vs. the Arizona Cardinals.
Brief peek at practice:
🏈 LT Isaiah Wynn, DT Carl Davis and OLB Tashawn Bower not spotted.
🏈 TE Devin Asiasi practices for the first time, starting his clock off IR (no practice for Julian Edelman).
🏈 Practice-squad DT Akeem Spence dons No. 52. TE Jake Burt still absent. pic.twitter.com/WWfLZ4ajfX
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 25, 2020
Ryan Izzo has been the only constant at the position for the team. While his effort has been valiant, the Patriots drafted two tight ends because they knew they had to upgrade after watching Izzo and Matt LaCosse in the role in 2019.
Unfortunately, Asiasi and fellow rookie Dalton Keene have both spent more time on IR than on the field. Perhaps Asiasi can change the story on Sunday.
Will He Start on Sunday?
Asasi hasn’t been activated or added to the 53-man roster at this point. However, he is eligible to play against the Cardinals and the Patriots could desperately use him. Whenever the Patriots have wanted to go to multiple tight ends, they have had to play newly signed guys to pair with Izzo or to even turn to offensive lineman in their max-protection looks.
The Patriots recently signed Jordan Thomas, who is an athletic and potentially exciting 24-year-old. However, having only been with a team for two weeks, it’s probably not realistic to expect too much from Thomas at this point.
Asasi isn’t likely to start on Sunday, even if he is activated. The Patriots almost never toss players into the fray so quickly after returning from injury. That’s especially the case when it comes to rookies who haven’t yet been a major part of the action.
If we’re being realistic, simply seeing Asiasi play and be on the field for 10 snaps would be a huge win. If he can get a couple of targets and a catch or two, it’ll be even more of a positive.
What Kind of Role Can He Play Through the Season?
Asasi seemingly struggled to get on the same page with the rest of the offense. Through the first six games of the season, Asiasi didn’t catch a single pass and what’s even more troubling is that he wasn’t targeted once.
It’s easy to forget how high hopes were for Asiasi coming into this season. The Patriots have historically had great success using the tight end in the past. With Asiasi literally handed the starting job, it made sense to have decent expectations for the rookie out of UCLA’s first season.
That hasn’t happened yet, but fans will forgive and forget if he can play a role in a wildly successful finish to the 2020 campaign.