FOXBORO, Mass – Zach Sudfeld has been one of the shining stars of Patriots training camp, but that hasn’t made the rookie tight end any less humble.
Sudfeld had a monster day in his first action at Gillette Stadium. The stat sheet may only read two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown, but he was taking plenty of first-team reps, his blocking looked improved and he pulled in a two-point conversion from Tom Brady.
Sudfeld wouldn’t take any credit for his catch on the two-point conversion, though.
“It was good coverage for that play and a great throw,” Sudfeld said. “It was probably a better throw than anything else.”
Sudfeld has been getting open all summer for his quarterbacks. In practice, he’s always one of the top performers, and in both preseason games, the former Nevada standout has shined. Sudfeld smiled, passing the buck on to his quarterbacks once again, about his ability to find space in the defense.
“I don’t know if that’s me,” Sudfeld said. “I think that it’s more of the quarterbacks being able to put it in there, and fortunately there are a lot of guys on this team that are very good at that. It’s been a great thing for me.”
Sudfeld’s touchdown catch from Ryan Mallett was a thing of beauty. He reached for the catch, a Buccaneers linebacker Najee Goode knocked it out of his hands, but Sudfeld rebounded, pulling the ball in while tumbling to the ground.
“It was just a great experience to be out there and to be able to compete as part of this organization,” Sudfeld said. “The whole experience was great and the touchdown was obviously very cool.”
Sudfeld looked like he was slow to get up after the play, but he stayed in for the extra point. Sudfeld said he wasn’t hurt, just taking in the experience.
“I was just trying to enjoy the moment,” Sudfeld said. “It was good and I am perfectly fine. I just basked in it for a second.”
Sudfeld has been running with the first team for the majority of camp in Aaron Hernandez‘s “flex” tight end role. Bill Belichick gave the tight end some uncommon praise.
“He’s worked hard,” Belichick said. “Zach’s worked hard to learn our offense. It’s a little different than what they did at Nevada. He’s a smart kid and he’s got some skill. He’s been very diligent in his preparation. He’s been out there almost every day out there practicing. Coach [George] Godsey has done a good job with him. He’s had to learn how to be an on-the-line tight end. He’s making progress but he’s got a long way to go. He’s made a lot of gains. He’s a hardworking kid. He’s smart and tough. He’s got a couple things going for him.”
When Sudfeld came in, the extent of Rob Gronkowski‘s back injury was still unknown, Hernandez was still a free man and the Nevada product still had three former starting tight ends in front of him on the roster in Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanwanui. Sudfeld entered Foxboro with one of the toughest paths in the league to a major role at tight end, but he could emerge out of training camp as the team’s No. 1 option at the position.
Photo via Twitter/@SteveB7SFG