The New England Patriots will have quite the battle at tight end entering the 2018 season and Dwayne Allen hopes to earn a bigger role.
Now that Rob Gronkowski is committed to the New England Patriots for the 2018 NFL season, attention now turns to who will play alongside and backup the All-Pro playmaker at the tight end position.
One of the more logical, yet not guaranteed options is Dwayne Allen. The veteran tight end, who was acquired in a deal with the Indianapolis Colts last offseason, struggled in his first season with the Patriots despite coming in with praise from the coaching staff.
Though much of that praise came in his blocking ability, Allen did show that he could produce in the passing game with the Colts. In the Patriots system, however, he had a tough time catching on both literally and figuratively. In fact, Allen finished the season with just 10 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in 16 games.
While much of that lack of production in the passing game was a result of the dominance of Gronkowski, Allen had a tough time earning the trust necessary from the coaching staff and Tom Brady. Allen is hoping to earn that trust during OTAs this time around and in doing so, earn a bigger role with the team.
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"“The spring is the time to show the coaches if you want a bigger role or if you want to contribute in a different way,” Allen said during his youth football camp in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “Our OTAs coming up are very competitive practices. The first phase of that is showing you understand the playbook. We work out on the field, but aren’t able to compete against the defense. But you can still show your knowledge of the playbook.”"
Dwayne Allen was able to contribute in other ways during the season, but he wasn’t able to produce offensively in games where the team was without Gronkowski. Luckily for the veteran tight end, the Patriots didn’t have any other real options at the position besides undrafted rookie Jacob Hollister.
This upcoming spring, there will be much competition. Not only did the team sign Troy Niklas over the offseason, Will Tye will be in camp off the practice squad and the team drafted rookie tight end Ryan Izzo and signed undrafted rookie Shane Wimann.
Dwayne Allen should have the inside tract to make the team, but the increased competition makes that no guarantee.
The one thing that is certain for Allen is his motivation, especially with the challenge those other players present.
"“I have enough to be motivated by, but as a competitor you see it as a challenge,” Allen said. “I know to keep getting better each week. I have to put in the work to earn the right to change my role on this team.”"
His ability to do that will put the New England Patriots in a great position entering the 2018 NFL season.