New England Patriots: Ryan Izzo making a nice push at tight end

New England Patriots second-year tight end Ryan Izzo is no Rob Gronkowski replacement, but the Florida State product is making the most of his opportunity.

With Rob Gronkowski no longer stepping on the field for the New England Patriots, there is Ben Watson and then a bunch of question marks at the tight end position as the team enters the 2019 NFL season.

One of those question marks looking to lock down a roster spot is second-year tight end Ryan Izzo.

Mostly known for his blocking coming out of the University of Florida State, Izzo is showing through three preseason games that he can be a threat in the offense as well.  The numbers aren’t staggering, but in Thursday night’s 10-3 win over the Carolina Panthers in the team’s third preseason game, Izzo caught a nice 18-yard laser from Tom Brady that certainly won him some points from the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

But, what about his head coach?

When asked after the game about Izzo’s performance in the preseason, Bill Belichick gave his typical generic answer, but there was a little praise for the young tight end in the Patriots head coach’s answer.

“Yeah, look, I can’t keep track of every player out there, so we’ll go back and look at the film,” Belichick said during the post-game press conference.  “I think everybody’s competing, everybody’s getting better.  Ryan’s certainly done that.  He’s had much more of an opportunity to play this year because of his health, his good health.  We’ll just evaluate him along with everybody else.”

The praise there is that Ryan Izzo is getting an opportunity to play with the first unit.  While his biggest contribution was blocking in the running game, it was nice to see him able to go out and make the kind of play in the passing game that will eventually make him more of a two-way tight end.

Again, Izzo is competing for a spot on the tight end depth chart but is certainly making the most of the opportunity given.

“The opportunity is always there if they put me out there,” Izzo said.  “You know if it’s run game, pass game again or special teams, I just want to make the most of those opportunities.”

After missing his entire rookie season due to injury, Ryan Izzo is battling for two, possibly three spots on the tight end depth chart with Ben Watson set to miss the first four games of the season due to injury.

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Veteran Matt LaCosse has been sitting out with an injury, but between veteran Lance Kendricks, Stephen Anderson and newly-acquired tight end Eric Saubert, Izzo appears to be on the inside track of locking down a spot primarily due to the strength of his blocking.