Training Camp Roster Watch: Tight Ends

Training Camp Roster Watch: Tight Ends
July 22, 2014, 2:00 pm
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We're breaking down the personnel and pecking order at each position as the Patriots prepare to open camp this week. 

TIGHT ENDS
Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, DJ Williams, Justin Jones, Asa Watson, Nate Byham, James Develin

As usual, the fate of the offense will rest largely on Gronkowski's health. He hasn't yet been placed on the physically unable to perform list, which would seem to be a good sign. (And it would jive with his recent comments to ESPNBoston.com that he plans to play the full 2014 season after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year.) He can, however, end up on the PUP list at any point before the team starts practicing on Thursday. Hoomanawanui is a nice versatile option who will play myriad spots and do solidly but not spectacularly at any of them. He doesn't create the same separation Gronkowski does in his route running, but if Hoo-man gets his hands on a pass it's probably going to be caught. Develin could see some work in a role similar to the one Hoomanawanui has manned in the past -- part-time fullback, part-time tight end. Develin did his OTA and minicamp work with the tight ends and has been praised by Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for his effort. Williams represents the lone true "move" tight end of the bunch. Coming off an injury that limited him in the spring, he'll have to prove himself worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. Byham was picked up this week to fill out the 90-man roster. He's a former Greg Schiano understudy in Tampa Bay and, like Gronkowski, is coming off a season ending ACL tear. More of a blocking tight end, he'll provide the group some depth this summer along with undrafted rookies Watson and Jones. At 6-foot-8 and built like a house, Jones is an intriguing prospect, but he'll have to be a quick study to pick up the NFL game. He spent a year out of college football after being ruled ineligible for his senior season at East Carolina.