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Patriots bolster tight end depth, sign Jason Vander Laan to their practice squad

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Related: Patriots sign quarterback Cody Kessler to their 53-man roster

New York Jets v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The New England Patriots started their on-field preparation for their upcoming AFC East matchup with the Buffalo Bills today, and two new players were spotted on the practice fields. Quarterback Cody Kessler, whose signing was reported earlier today, was one of the two while the other was an addition to the Patriots’ tight end depth chart: tight end Jason Vander Laan was signed to the club’s practice squad.

The 27-year-old originally entered the NFL back in 2016 as an undrafted free agent. He started his career with the New York Jets, but spent his entire rookie season on the team’s practice squad before his release one year later. He went on to join the Indianapolis Colts midway through the 2017 season and was promoted to their active roster a short time later, seeing the first in-game action of his career.

After Vander Laan played in four games for the Colts as a special teamer, he was released yet again during the 2018 offsason. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end then went on to join the Carolina Panthers with whom he spent his entire third season in the league — without appearing in a single game, however. Ultimately, he was let go again during this year’s roster cutdowns which paved the way for him to join the Patriots now.

Vander Laan is now the third layer of depth at the tight end position behind Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo, at least until Benjamin Watson returns from his four-game suspension next week. Of course, the team might have another motive in mind when it comes to bringing him on board: he played quarterback in college and rushed for 5,953 during his days at Ferris State. With New England facing mobile Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the team could turn to Vander Laan to help with preparations.