Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- The Patriots hadn't even started their warmups when their offense gathered on one of the fields behind Gillette Stadium to run through a two-minute drill. It's something they'll often do as part of their pre-practice routine. It gets their legs going as well as their brains. 

Josh McDaniels called for his 11-personnel grouping — one tight end, one running back — with Tom Brady as the first unit up. The one tight end in the group? Matt LaCosse. 

"I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't pretty cool," LaCosse said when asked what it was like to catch passes from Brady this week. 

"Obviously one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to ever play this game. But . . . we're all moving toward the same goal and that's pretty cool. That's pretty cool — especially when we get on the same page and gain each other's trust a little better."

That process has been underway through two days of minicamp as LaCosse has stood out among the group of tight ends vying for roles as the team adjusts to life without Rob Gronkowski. LaCosse has seemingly caught every pass sent in his direction, and he's received extensive reps with Brady. Ben Watson is the other tight end who has seen his share of targets from Brady over the course of two days, but Watson's four-game suspension to start the season means there's an open competition for tight end reps come Week 1.

Stephen Anderson and Ryan Izzo also have a shot to chip in at the position, as does undrafted rookie Andrew Beck — though Beck appears to me more of a fullback than a true tight end option at the moment. The Patriots released Austin Seferian-Jenkins earlier this week. 

 

LaCosse knows he's staring a quality opportunity in the face.

"Obviously it's a good opportunity," he said. "But nothing's been earned yet. We still have a really long way to go. Everybody's competing for the same spot. I haven't earned anything yet. It's one of those things you keep the pedal to the metal. You get what you earn here."

The Patriots targeted LaCosse early in free agency, coming to an agreement on Mar. 14 with a player who caught 24 passes last year in 15 games for the Broncos — both career-highs. The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder entered the league as an undrafted rookie out of Illinois in 2015. He spent time the majority of his first three seasons in the league with the Giants and was signed off of New York's practice squad by Denver in December of 2017. 

"He’s a young player that has some talent," Bill Belichick said Wednesday. "He’s played in the league and we feel like he has some upside. We’ll see how it goes in our system."

There's a long way to go, as Belichick often likes to say, but so far so good for the self-described "multiple guy," willing to play on the line, split out wide, in the backfield, and on special teams. 

"Just all over the field," LaCosse said, "wherever you need me, that's where I'm going to go."

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