FOXBORO - Earlier this week, the Patriots signed veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.
Whether the 32-year-old was signed as camp fodder, insurance for the injured Daniel Fells or a legit role has become more clear as the week has progressed.
On Thursday, Bill Belichick said of the former Viking, "We'll just have to see how it all plays out. (Shiancoe's) a good football player, he's had a good career, he's been productive for two organizations with several different quarterbacks. I think he's a good football player and he'll be competitive on our team. We'll see how it all turns out."
Aside from that quote, the fact the Patriots gave Shiancoe a 400,000 bonus (according to our boys at PFT) indicates Shiancoe's role is expected to be larger.
The Patriots had historic production from the tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in 2011, but they were the only two tight ends to catch a pass last year. Clearly, with Fells and Shiancoe in the mix, the Patriots are plotting to use the tight end in a more expanded role in 2012. What that role will be should come clear in the next 40 days.