The New England Patriots will have a much different look at the tight end position for the rest of the season.
On Thursday, just before the team took on the Los Angeles Rams in a crucial primetime matchup, the Patriots elected to place veteran tight end, Ryan Izzo, on injured reserve. They also elevated rookie tight end Devin Asiasi to the 53-man roster.
#Patriots have placed TE Ryan Izzo on injured reserve and activated TE Devin Asiasi from IR. Izzo suffered a neck injury Sunday and was alread dealing with hand and hamstring woes.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) December 10, 2020
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Izzo Battled But Hasn’t Been 100 Percent Healthy
Ryan Izzo hasn’t been 100 percent healthy for weeks. He’s been gutting it out as the team has been extraordinarily thin at tight end. At this point, it’s possible he’s gone as long as possible and truly needs to sit to recover from a near season of pounding as the only available and experienced tight end on the roster.
The neck injury he suffered on Sunday made this move a necessity for New England.
His role won’t get much love from fans or even most members of the media, but the best ability is availability, and Izzo has definitely checked that box up to now.
Asiasi Active and in a Position to Make an Impact
It’s been a tough season for Asiasi. He was a third-round pick and highly touted coming out of UCLA. Asiasi’s athleticism delivers some promise to a Patriots offense that could desperately use a weapon in the passing game–especially up the seams. However, Asiasi has yet to catch a pass in limited availability, so it’s important to temper expectations for this game.
That said, the Patriots are in Los Angeles, and they’ve been practicing in Asiasi’s old stomping grounds. There is some hope he can find some success in a familiar area.
What a story it would be if Asiasi was able to have a career game back in Los Angeles. That might be the kind of kickstart he needs to ignite the rest of his season.
The Rookie Tight Ends
Asiasi and fellow rookie tight end Dalton Keene are both activated for this game. This is the first time that’s been the case all season. Again, it’s important expectations are tempered as neither Asiasi nor Keene have had a ton of snaps, and they haven’t done a lot with the opportunities to this point.
That said, both Asiasi offers more in the way of athleticism, and that’s an exciting prospect if the Patriots actually dial up a few plays downfield.
Having two active and healthy tight ends could also provide a boost to the run game. The Patriots have been employing a run-dominant attack. Having more bodies available at tight end gives them more flexibility in that area.
Perhaps there are even audibles out of run plays that can be called that provide an opportunity for Asiasi to use his athleticism in space.
These are all utopian concepts that aren’t likely to manifest on Thursday night, but it’s definitely something to consider moving forward–even as far ahead as the 2021 season.
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