Patriots

Matt LaCosse on opportunity at tight end position: 'Nothing’s been given to me yet'

Matt LaCosse on opportunity at tight end position: 'Nothing’s been given to me yet'

When Matt LaCosse signed with the New England Patriots this offseason, few expected him to enter training camp as the starter at tight end. But after Austin Seferian-Jenkins was cut and Ben Watson was suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the league's PED policy, the door is now open for LaCosse.

At the second day of training camp, LaCosse spoke of the opportunity in front of him and his mentality in the team's wide-open position battle.

“It’s obviously a big opportunity,” LaCosse said to reporters after Friday's practice. “But again, nothing’s been given to me yet. You just have to go out there and work. The whole room is talented. It’s a talented team. Whatever I can do to help the team, that’s what I’m going to do.”

LaCosse did do well in Friday's session by all accounts, but he is still going to have a major obstacle to his success. And that's the fact that he will be following in the footsteps in one of the greatest to ever play the position in Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski retired this offseason and despite rumors to the contrary, plans on remaining retired. While LaCosse's production may be compared to that of Gronkowski's in the early stages of the season, LaCosse isn't going to let that bother him.

“I’m just a guy trying to play the game and help the team win,” LaCosse said. “Gronk’s one of the best tight ends to ever play the game, but whatever this team needs me to do to help this team win, that’s what I’m going to do.”

LaCosse entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and had the best year of his career in 2018, catching 24 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown in 15 games (five starts). He will look to continue to improve as he aims for more playing time in New England.

LaCosse's main competition at tight end, with Watson suspended, will come from former seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo, receiving tight end Stephen Anderson, and undrafted free agent Andrew Beck. Recent free-agent signing Lance Kendricks, a solid blocker, will also factor into the battle for roster spots.

CURRAN: Stidham skittish at second day of Patriots training camp>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

The New England Patriots already have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season, and few would blame Bill Belichick -- the oldest head coach in the league at 68 -- if he made a similar decision.

So, did concerns about COVID-19 lead Belichick to consider not coaching in 2020? It doesn't appear so.

"I feel very good about the environment that we're in," Belichick said Friday in a video conference with reporters. "I feel fine."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Belichick also confirmed no coaches on his staff have backed out of the 2020 season.

The Patriots are in the "acclimation period" of training camp, with players going through non-padded walk-throughs outside Gillette Stadium as they ramp up for their first padded practice on Aug. 17.

According to Belichick, the players and staff in the building feel confident in their safety so far.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I think my impression is that as an organization, as a coaching staff, the support people, the players -- there's a comfort level with what we're doing and who's doing it and how we're doing it, and we're being productive," Belichick said.

"So, if concerns or problems come up, then we'll address those. But right now, I think it's a good working environment. We're getting a lot done."

Patriots Talk Podcast: Measuring the toll that opt-outs took around the NFL | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The Patriots, like every other team, have to follow rigorous safety protocols that include frequent COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and physical distancing measures. That "new normal" will take some getting used to, but Belichick believes the protocols have helped create an environment that coaches and staff feel safe in.

"The organization has taken a lot of steps to ensure everyone's safety and opportunity to do their job and do it safely and do it productively," Belichick said. 

"Certainly there's a lot of responsibility on each one of us to do things in a way that doesn't affect others negatively, that we take the proper precautions that we can and should, so that's what we're doing."

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu finally doesn't have to fly across the country to work out with his new quarterback.

The New England Patriots began Phase 1 of training camp this week by hitting the practice field as a team outside Gillette Stadium.

That means Cam Newton joined his Patriots teammates in an official capacity for the first time, and Sanu seems pretty excited about having his new quarterback in the building.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Here's the Instagram shout-out Sanu gave Newton Thursday on Instagram via a photo of the two in Patriots gear at training camp:

View this post on Instagram

Beannnn & Ace booogie wit da hoodie

A post shared by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

Sanu and Newton teamed up for informal throwing sessions in Los Angeles just days after the 31-year-old quarterback signed with the Patriots in free agency and appeared to develop a strong connection.

Like Newton, Sanu has a lot to prove this season after an ankle injury plagued his 2019 campaign with New England. The 30-year-old sprained his ankle in his second game with the Patriots last season after a midseason trade from the Atlanta Falcons and caught three passes or fewer in his final six games of the season.

Sanu projects to be the Patriots' No. 2 wide receiver this season behind Julian Edelman, so if he can stay healthy, he could go a long way in helping Newton and the Patriots finding success this season despite a wave of player opt-outs.