The New England Patriots will open the 2019 season short-handed at tight end, even when Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement is not considered. After all, free agency acquisition Benjamin Watson will miss the first four weeks of the regular season due to a suspension for violating the NFL‘s substance abuse policy. As we now know, he won‘t be the only Patriots tight end to be absent for opening week.
As the NFL announced earlier today, Lance Kendricks will be out for opening week as well:
Lance Kendricks of the New England Patriots has been suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse. Kendricks is eligible to participate in all remaining preseason practices and the team’s final preseason game. He will be eligible to return to the Patriots’ active roster on Monday, Sept. 9, following the team’s Week 1 game vs. Pittsburgh.
Kendricks joined the Patriots on the eve of training camp, after a quiet free agency period. Despite bringing considerable experience to the roster, the 31-year-old was far from a lock to earn one of the tight end spots alongside quasi lock Matt LaCosse. And while he saw regular action during preseason, Kendricks failed to stand out. His suspension might save him from getting the axe on cutdown day, but it would still be a surprise to see him join New England‘s active squad afterwards.