Last year, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were two of Tom Brady's go-to targets, even though they were tight ends. This year will be different at the tight end position.
With Gronkowski starting the preseason on the PUP list because he is recovering from offseason surgery and Hernandez charged with first-degree murder, the Patriots' tight end spots are up for grabs.
Players like Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, Brandon Ford, Zach Sudfield and Michael Hoomanawanui will be competing for a roster spot under Bill Belichick.
"Can they make a difference? They will certainly be given that chance," CSNNE's Mike Giardi said.
When Belichick addressed the media, he compared this season's tight end spot to Lou Gehrig and Wally Pipp. Gehrig filled in for Pipp for one game when his name was called, and he went on to play 2,130 consecutive games and hit 493 home runs.
"That's the classic story," Belichick said. "Being able to take advantage of those opportunities, it's there."