New England Patriots 2018: Don’t forget about Jacob Hollister

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots had a couple undrafted free agents who impressed last training camp.  One of those players was tight end Jacob Hollister.

The New England Patriots are pretty much all set at tight end with the Rob Gronkowski leading the pact. But, what about the backup positions?  With a mix of veterans and younger players, the tight end position battle will be an interesting one to watch during training camp and throughout the preseason.

With questions marks surrounding veterans Dwayne Allen and Troy Niklas, young players like Will Tye and rookie tight ends Ryan Izzo and Shane Wimann will have a chance to swoop in and claim one of the backup tight end spots.

And don’t forget about second-year man Jacob Hollister.

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Undrafted out of the University of Wyoming, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end did his thing during training camp and preseason in 2017 to claim a spot on the 53-man roster. Although he caught just four passes for 42 yards during the regular season, Hollister did play in 15 regular season games.  Not only did he gain valuable experience, he was an option in the passing game.

With a strong minicamp this past spring, Hollister should have the inside track on one of the backup positions.  He will certainly have to compete as he did last year and be more of an impact in games.  Part of that is earning the trust from Tom Brady.  He certainly have seemed to do that during the minicamp drills where Brady participated.

"“I think it’s just becoming reliable and earning the trust of your teammates,” Hollister said following Day 2 of minicamp back in May, via NESN.  “Obviously you’ve got to earn the trust of your quarterback, earn the trust of everyone on the team, really.  It’s really just coming out every day and proving yourself to your teammates and knowing they can trust on you every play.  That’s what I’m worrying about the most.”"

As one of the standouts in the passing game during minicamp, Jacob Hollister appears both motivated and ready to make a jump in year two of his professional career.  With the amount of competition the team has at the backup tight end position, Hollister will have to continue to strive within the passing game to secure the spot he earned in 2017.

Another option besides Rob Gronkowski

In all, the New England Patriots are really looking for a tight end who can complement Rob Gronkowski.

The closest thing they had to that was Martellus Bennett in 2016.  Unfortunately, Gronkowski missed part of the season due to a back injury.  With that injury history, the team needs a reliable tight end like Bennett who could serve as another offensive option when Gronk is on the field and can fill in for the All-Pro tight end if he misses games.

As of right now, Jacob Hollister is the closet to that.  A healthy Troy Niklas could become that player, but if Hollister continues to show the promise in the passing game that he showed in minicamp, he will make it very tough to snatch away his roster spot.

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Overall, it will be intriguing to see which tight end impresses the most during training camp and into the preseason. All eyes will be on Rob Gronkowski, but also keep an eye on the progression of Hollister.