Digging Deeper: New England Patriots Preseason Game Two Analysis of the Offense

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TIGHT ENDS: Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) gestures before their game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With the team already having jettisoned veteran tight end Fred Davis and released 2014 contributor Tim Wright, the tight end position is thinner than it was at the beginning of OTAs. Sixth round draft pick A.J. Derby has already been placed on injured reserve and the team had to trade for Asante Cleveland and sign undrafted free agent Jimmay Mundine.

Former defensive end Jake Bequette’s transition to tight end has been slowed due to injury and free agent Scott Chandler has missed much of camp further depleting the position.Of course, Rob Gronkowski being healthy is the most important part of the camp news this summer at the tight end position. With Gronkowski on the bench during the preseason as a precaution and Chandler still not healthy, the bench players had a chance to step up in prime time.

Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end

Michael Hoomanawanui

(47) on the side line during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium. The Green Bay Packers won 22-11. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Hoomanawanui drew the start at tight end Saturday night and was targeted just one time. However, it was on third down and he was unable to pull in a catchable ball from Brady. Hoomanawanui showed up negatively on tape with his run blocking as the Saints’ edge rushers set the edge in the running game against him and pushed him back into the backfield.

Mundine had three catches for 26 yards but also limped off the field. Fortunately, he did return to the game. Asante Cleveland got his first work with the Patriots and he looked like any other player trying to learn the offense. Cleveland had one reception but did not look strong in pass blocking or stand out in any way after a second look at the second half.

The tight end position is all about Gronkowski. Hoomanawanui is strictly a blocker and not a receiver. As much as the fanbase looks forward to seeing Chandler lined up opposite Gronkowski and the two titanic tight ends running routes, injuries are likely going to make it not happen until opening night at the earliest. Cleveland, Mundine, and Bequette have the longest of long shots to make the roster at this point.

Next: Watching the Wide Receivers