Even before having to announce their game-day inactives, the New England Patriots know that they will be understaffed at some positions versus the Buffalo Bills. Defensive backs Stephon Gilmore and Kyle Dugger were ruled out on Saturday, joining wide receiver N’Keal Harry and defensive tackle Carl Davis on the sidelines. Furthermore, wide receiver Julian Edelman and offensive tackle Justin Herron were placed on injured reserve.
On Sunday morning, another member of the team was announced as “out” by the club: rookie tight end Devin Asiasi did not make the trip to Buffalo due to personal reasons and will miss the game. With him unavailable, the Patriots will again head into a game with Ryan Izzo and Dalton Keene as their one-two punch at the position.
Over their first five games this season, Asiasi saw regular playing time as the number two tight end alongside the veteran Izzo. The third-round draft pick did not show up on the stat sheet even once, and was not employed on special teams, but he did get his fair share of opportunities within the offense: Asiasi played 81 of a possible 337 snaps through Week 6, a playing time share of 24 percent.
Against the San Francisco 49ers last week, however, he was a healthy scratch in favor of Dalton Keene. The fellow third-round draft choice played 24 of New England’s 52 offensive snaps in his debut, and, as opposed to Asiasi over the first five games, also managed to come away with a reception which went for eight yards.
With the likes of Edelman and Harry also out, the Patriots will likely hope for more production out of their rookie and the tight end position as a whole. So far this season, Izzo and the two youngsters have combined to catch just eight passes for 98 yards — making New England’s tight end group the statistically least effective in the NFL.