By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday figures to be another day where Patriots fans see someone make a play before pondering aloud, “Who was that?”
Such has been the case this year, as unique rules for injured reserve and practice squad elevation have led to the likes of Terez Hall, Isaiah Zuber, Tashawn Bower, and Myles Bryant sending viewers to the roster page on Patriots.com for some more information.
And while it’s always a dangerous game to predict the future, the next player to join those ranks may be tight end Jordan Thomas.
That’s in part due to Thomas’ size and ability, and also due to the team’s desperate need for production out of the tight end spot.
First, there’s Thomas: He’s 6-foot-5, 277 pounds, making him the biggest target on the team. He hasn’t produced much in his three-year NFL career (20 receptions, 215 yards as a rookie; 2 receptions for 11 yards in the two years since), but he did catch four touchdowns in his rookie season of 2018 for the Texans. All four of those touchdowns came during red zone possessions. Considering the Patriots still rank dead last in touchdown passes with five on the whole season, adding a potential touchdown threat at this point of the year could provide a much-needed element to the red zone offense. (The Patriots are tied for third in rushing touchdowns with 14, but some diversity is sorely needed.)
New England signed Thomas off waivers when the Cardinals let him go earlier this month. He played in four games for Arizona after spending the first two years of his career in Houston.
“He’s worked hard here,” Bill Belichick said of Thomas on Friday. “We were able to meet with him virtually and start to get him caught up with some of the terminology and so forth, but it’s been good to work with him on the field. We’ll just keep taking it day by day and see where that takes us. But he’s engaged, he’s all in, he wants to do well and we’re trying to catch him up as quickly as we can.”
The window is seemingly open for Thomas, too, as the Patriots are getting essentially no production at all out of the tight end position. With rookies Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi injured, the lone active tight end in recent weeks has been Ryan Izzo. He has 10 receptions for 134 yards. Keene has one reception for eight yards. And that’s it.
Patriots tight ends have 11 receptions for 142 yards through nine football games. In the old days, 11 receptions for 142 yards would account for one day’s work for Rob Gronkowski.
Clearly, those days aren’t coming back any time soon. But the point is simple: If Jordan Thomas can suit up and play on Sunday vs. his old team in Houston, he should have ample opportunity to make an impact for an offense that could surely use the help.