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Dalton Keene Reportedly Struggling in Practice
The Patriots drafted Keene in the third round when the team doubled-down on rookie tight ends after taking Devin Asiasi earlier in the frame. Asiasi hasn’t been perfect, but he’s certainly shown some flashes and the ability to make some plays down the field as well as in run-blocking situations.
Unfortunately, according to Lazar, Keene hasn’t had as much success. Lazar wrote this in a recent evaluation of the players he’s watched at Patriots training camp:
Keene looks lost out there, and he’s dropping some passes when the ball does come his way, but the effort and physicality is there. His skill set to play multiple roles and block from in-line, off the line, and in the backfield make him very intriguing in the style of offense the Pats will run with Newton. He just needs to get his bearings. The Pats coaching staff was expecting an adjustment period for Keene, operating in a much different offense now than what he did at Virginia Tech.
Keene Has a Tough Assignment
In many ways, Keene’s versatility might be one of his biggest issues early on, at least from an expectations standpoint. He has been seen as something of an H-Back since the team selected him out of Virginia Tech in April, and that’s a bit of a complex role for a rookie to handle.
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Chances are, he’s being asked to do some things he’s never done before. It’s been a strange offseason and there is a ton to absorb. Right now, it would appear Keene is behind the curve.
With the NFL season set to begin in a few weeks, the chances of Keene playing a major role on offense early in the year seem scant. Unless he can quickly get up to speed and starts to eliminate some of the errors, Keene will see a lot less of the field than Asiasi, and veteran Ryan Izzo might be the man who gets the backup or second tight end reps.
This might also explain why the Patriots felt it necessary to continue to bring in free-agent tight ends like Paul Quessenberry. With Keene struggling to get in stride, depth was increasingly an issue.
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