During the dulls, I'll take a swag at who will make the final roster without the benefit of seeing most of these guys with pads on. Next up Tight ends.
We started into training camp last year with 4 TE's and I was fooled into thinking we were going to keep all of them. I was wrong, yet with the injuries that our O-line suffered, another tight end or two couldn't have hurt. This year, we are heading toward camp with four entirely new bodies (well, new to us): Alge Crumpler, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Myers. I'd like to take some advice from The Who who said, "We won't get fooled again.", but we'll see how it goes.
Rob Myers isn't exactly new to the Patriots, he spent time last year on our practice squad. He's still eligible, and unless he does something to surprise during training camp, he could go right back on the practice squad and not miss a beat.
Alge Crumpler was a pass catching fiend for the Falcons. He moved to Tenessee, added some weight (not the lean variety), and took on more of a blocking role with the Titans. He was effective in both roles. Reading between the lines in his and Belichick's comments, I don't believe he is coming here strictly to firm up the O-line. I think he is expecting to catch some passes as well. Do you hear that O'Brien? Alge has slimmed down, and may have become a lean, mean, pass catching machine once again. Oh, he'll still be around to lend blocking support, but don't be as surprised as the defense will be when he breaks out and snags a few Brady passes in the red zone.
Speaking of all around tight-ends, we picked up another in Rob Gronkowski. Gronk can hold his own at the line of scrimmage, and catching in traffic. He hurt his back last year, and they might give him lighter duty for awhile as they see how things go. Don't expect him to sit out for extended periods, though. Double TE sets just got more dangerous for the defense with both Rob and Alge in the game.
Aaron Hernadez might be called upon to chip block now and again and again and again, but don't expect him to stand toe-to-toe at the line of scrimmage. Of course, that's about the only place he won't be lined up. Tim Tebow's favorite target can run or catch out of the backfield, and is lethal split wide. He is a Dallas Clark sort that creates mismatches no matter who defends him.
We only carried two TE's on the active roster last year. I'll give you this year's guess after the jump.
I already tipped my hand on this one in the running back post. Since Hernandez has the size and can play fullback, I'm pretty sure he'll steal the extra roster spot we need from the running backs. The only way we carry four tight-ends is if Mr. Myers does a jaw dropping job in training camp. So far, I've not heard his name mentioned once. No news, in this case, might be bad news for Myers. He could make the team if one of the other guys is hurt, but then we'd still only have three TE's on the roster.
Some have said that Alge's number may be called more at the beginning of the season, and Gronkowski's more as he heals up and gains experience. Pass wise, that may be true, but I think we'll see plenty of both of them through the season. Hernandez, on the other hand should be thrown around in multiple formations with the defense always asking, "Who the heck was covering THAT guy?".
Here's my call:
1. Alge Crumpler
2. Rob Gronkowski
C. Aaron Hernandez (He's not number 3, he's in a different role altogether)
PS: Rob Myers