Patriots Prized Free Agent Creates Doubt About Week 1 Availability

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The New England Patriots‘ 53-man roster is set, but there are still a few injury concerns. Among them is prized free-agent signing Hunter Henry.

The veteran tight end has been hobbled throughout training camp and the preseason. He met with the media on Monday and his answer about his availability for the Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins didn’t exactly inspire confidence.


Will Hunter Henry Be Ready to Go For Week 1 Vs. The Dolphins?

NFL.com’s Michael Giardi tweeted: Henry’s response to a question about his readiness for the season-opener?

Do you have any doubt that you’ll be out there on Sunday, Hunter Henry? “I wouldn’t say doubt…” Henry says he’s continuing to “try to get better” every day. He has a shoulder injury & appeared to be wearing a harness when he returns to the practice field at the end of camp.

Well, that’s not what Patriots fans wanted to hear. With rookie Mac Jones getting his first start, and with New England’s offense built around the running game and the use of tight ends, Henry’s presence and health are important.

Teamed with fellow free-agent signee Jonnu Smith, the Patriots are expected to employ a ton of two tight end sets. If Henry cannot play or is too limited, New England will need to look at the next man up on the depth chart.

That could be second-year pro Devin Asiasi, who had his moments during the preseason.


The Patriots Will Lean on Tight End Play All Season

New England had a plan in free agency. Whomever their quarterback was going to be, they were going to be sure to support them with a strong offensive line, a good running game, and talented players at tight end.

The Athletic’s Ben Standig collected quotes from several NFL agents as a part of the publication’s annual agent survey. Some unnamed agents had some interesting things to say about the Patriots’ offseason spending spree and some specific comments about the tight end situation, which obviously has something to do with Henry.

The first quote says:

“They [the Patriots] blitzkrieged the whole situation when nobody saw that happening. I didn’t expect one team to dominate free agency like they did, and this was very unlike the Patriots. Pairing tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith together was a wow moment for me.”

Another unnamed source said:

“The Patriots paying top-of-market for two tight ends, especially since Hunter Henry misses five games every year and Jonnu Smith means paying for potential.”

When you look at the situation, the Patriots couldn’t have created a more quarterback-friendly setup without finding a legit No. 1 wide receiver like Julio Jones to add  a cherry on top of the sundae.

At some point, you’d expect Henry will be healthy and ready to go. When that happens, barring injuries elsewhere, the Patriots will be operating at full strength.

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