The New England Patriots are in the middle of their 2017 training camp, which has started in late July. Over the remainder of camp, the 90 players currently under contract with the team are now in the process of fighting for spots on either the 53-man roster or the 10-man practice squad.
As we have done throughout the offseason, we will continue to take a look at the men fighting for those few select spots on the 2017 Patriots – and to find out who will and might be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with one of New England's offseason acquisitions.
Name: James O'Shaughnessy
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: 88
Opening day age: 25
Size: 6'4, 245 lbs.
2016 review: After appearing in only seven games during his injury-shortened 2015 rookie season - he was placed on injured reserve due to a broken foot -, tight end James O'Shaughnessy had a more successful second NFL season; at least when it comes to playing time. Fully healthy again, the former fifth round draft pick was active for every one of the 17 games the Kansas City Chiefs played during their 2016 season.
Offensively, O'Shaughnessy was used as a rotational depth option at tight end. He played 111 regular season snaps in that role (of 1,022; 10.9%) and added another one during the Chiefs' lone postseason contest. Mostly employed as a blocker, the Illinois State product was the target of three pass attempts throughout the season. He caught two of them for a total of -1 yards (one went for -1, the other for no gain).
As his statistics show, offense was not O'Shaughnessy's strong suit in 2016. Instead, he was productive in another phase of the game: on special teams. Seeing time on all four units, he played 287 of 448 regular season kicking game snaps (64.1%) and finished with a combined seven tackles as well as one fumble recovery. O'Shaughnessy added 16 snaps (of 24; 66.7%) and a tackle during the Chiefs' playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2017 preview: On the third day of the 2017 NFL draft, the Patriots acquired James O'Shaughnessy via trade. New England sent a fifth round pick to Kansas City for O'Shaughnessy and a sixth round selection. But despite the trade and his relatively modest salary cap hit of $624,000, he is no lock to make the Patriots' 53-man roster.
O'Shaughnessy finds himself in a four-man battle for a backup role behind roster locks Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. The former Chief will have to fight off returning backup Matt Lengel as well as two rookies in Jacob Hollister and Sam Cotton. He certainly appears to be in a solid position to earn what at best is projected to be one spot final tight end spot on the team, judged by his training camp performance so far.
The 25-year old needs to keep improving especially as a receiving option, however, to prove himself worthy of the final tight end spot. So far, he is on a solid path to earn either that or at least a spot on the 10-man practice squad. Whatever it will be, it would therefore be a slight surprise if O'Shaughnessy is not with the Patriots in some capacity come the start of the regular season.