FOXBORO, Mass. — Asked Tuesday to evaluate how the New England Patriots’ offense has fared so far this summer, Dwayne Allen reached for a common cliche.
“We’ve all looked great in shorts,” he said with a smile.
Allen, however, wasn’t among the players who looked great during the Patriots’ non-padded practices this spring.
Acquired from the Indianapolis Colts in an offseason trade, the 27-year-old tight end made a less-than-stellar first impression, leading all Patriots pass-catchers in drops during the organized team activities and minicamp sessions that were open to the media.
It’s foolish to get worked up over how a player performs in May and June, but since Allen is expected to replace Martellus Bennett as New England’s No. 2 tight end, his struggles were a bit concerning.
Training camp has been a different story. Allen has looked much more comfortable since returning to Foxboro last week, dropping just one pass through the Patriots’ first five camp practices.
“I think any time you’re adjusting to a new quarterback, new offensive system, new everything, there’s going to be some struggles,” Allen said after Tuesday’s session. “I certainly had a lot of those early on. But I’m coming out here each and every day, working my tail off, getting better. That’s all you can expect.”
With the Patriots switching to full pads after Day 2 of training camp, Allen also has been able to showcase his considerable talents as a blocker. He’s fared well in that regard thus far, especially during individual drills.
“I’ve definitely got to knock the rust off,” he said. “But it’s one of those things where I’m going to be required to be stout at the point of attack, and that’s something that I’ve always taken pride in. Coach has always done a great job of putting players in the best position for each individual to succeed, and I’ll believe that I’ll be put in those positions to be the lead point blocker a lot this year.”
Allen’s acclimation to the Patriots’ system still is ongoing, as he said he’s not yet satisfied with his grasp of the playbook.
“I’m getting better day by day,” he said. “With an offense that’s been developing for 18-some odd years, I’d be a fool to say that I’ve mastered it or even come close to that. But I put in the work every day, and every day I come out here and get a little bit better.”
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com
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