New England Patriots Star TE Predicted to Elevate in 2022

New England Patriots

Getty Images New England Patriots TE Hunter Henry looks to have an exceptional season in 2022

The New England Patriots went full throttle in the offseason of 2021. While signing numerous big-name stars, some panned out and others fell short of expectations. However, star TE Hunter Henry managed to exceed expectations. In 2021, Henry recorded the highest passer rating percentage against zone coverage, according to Pro Football Focus via Twitter.

While Henry didn’t start off as rookie QB Mac Jones’s favorite target, as the season progressed he definitely became it. Henry was involved in the route concepts of over 65% of the New England Patriots’ pass plays in 2021, reported Dwain McFarland for Pro Football Focus. While this is below league average, he still manages to finish amongst the league’s elites with nine receiving touchdowns. The veteran TE showed he has an upside that should be embraced in the upcoming season.

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Patriots TE’s Expectations

As the Patriots attempt to rebuild their roster for 2022, one of their high-profile positions is TE. Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick loves to run a two TE system that allows less emphasis on having a true dominant No.1 WR. Tons of people expect Belichick to run the system with veterans TEs Jonnu Smith and Henry this upcoming season. However, last season the Patriots experienced injuries within their TE lineup and it forced the Patriots to look for contributions elsewhere. To put it in perspective, Smith and Henry only played 18.6% of offensive snaps together, reported Mike D’Bate for Sports Illustrated.

“Hunter’s been really good in a lot of ways,” the Patriots’ HC said in a press conference on October 25, 2021. “He’s a smart player. He can do a lot of things. He’s got a good, versatile skill set. Really, I thought one of the best plays he had (Sunday) was on the opening kickoff where the Jets tried to kick the ball opposite of the way we expected and what the wind would indicate and so forth.”

Hunter Henry’s Impact

In 2016, Henry was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Chargers. He established himself as a rising star with the Chargers, however, he only emphasized his stardom in his first year with the Patriots. As a Charger, he recorded 196 catches for 2,322 yards and 21 touchdowns, per ESPN. Henry is known for his versatility, but it seems the most comfortable while playing the “X’ or “Z” role.

There’s no secret, that Henry’s route-running skills are exceptional for his position. Only a few of his counterparts throughout the league (Greg Kittle, Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, etc.) can even compare. Despite the unexpected lack of production from the TE tandem as a whole. He still managed to have 50 catches for 603 yards and nine touchdowns.

As the season progressed, the relationship between Jones and Henry continues to grow. Henry has nothing but high praises for Jones. He believes Jones has the potential to be something great during his time in the NFL. The S.E.C. products becoming closer and closer only helps the Patriots’ future.

“He’s a tremendous talent. He’s smart, works hard, and is always trying to get better,” reported Kevin Tamie Jr. for Sports Illustrated.”I think that meshes well with me too because I’m the same way. I try to be very dependable, consistent, always trying to get better, and work really hard.”

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