One of the first moves the New England Patriots made in this new NFL league year was trading a fourth round draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for tight end Dwayne Allen and a sixth round selection. The parameters of the deal were already agreed to during the legal tempering period leading up to free agency and according to Allen himself caught him by surprise.
During his first conference call with the media as a member of the Patriots, the 27-year old admitted that he was "a bit shocked" when told he would leave Indianapolis. "I did not know that I was going to be traded to the New England Patriots, but after the initial shock wore off, then came some excitement and definitely a lot of joy," Allen stated. One part of the excitement apparently is playing with who Allen called "the best tight end in the National Football League", Rob Gronkowski.
t"I think there is a lot that I can learn from him," the 2012 third round draft pick noted. However, playing second fiddle to the consensus best player at the tight end position does not appear to be a problem for Allen. "I have been in situations where I've split time with other tight ends. I'm not sure what my role is going to be, but I'm excited just to get to work and learn from everyone around me."
As Allen noted, he does not yet know what his eventual role on the team might look like. What he does know, however, is that versatility is a key to being successful in New England. "One thing that I've caught on to early is Coach Belichick's saying of, ‘The more you can do.' I'm just about winning. I want to win and I understand that the more skills I can provide the offense, then hopefully the more mismatches that can be created for myself and other players."
With Rob Gronkowski at the other tight end position as well as versatile players in both the running back and the wide receiving corps, New England’s offense looks tailor-made to create mismatches across the board. But while versatility is a key component of playing for Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the basics of playing tight end are not lost on the former Colt: blocking and pass catching.
Allen called blocking a "lost art in the game", noting that the receiving tight end has been en vogue as of late. The new acquisition, however, also wants to be known for his skills as a blocker: "I take pride in it. It's something that I work at daily. I want to be not only the best blocking tight end, but I want to be the best blocker on my team." What could he do to become that? "[It] takes hard work, it takes attention to detail and really working at my technique."
By the sounds of it, the Patriots have found a player willing to do all that – and buy into the team for the greater good.