FOXBORO, Mass. — Jake Bequette is beginning to look like a tight end.
Bequette, who spent four years at Arkansas and his first three years in the NFL at defensive end, was sporting No. 85 in practice Friday. It was the first time Bequette has worn his new number, since the Patriots were practicing without jerseys this spring and in their first training camp session.
“I’m not really sure that was my choice,” Bequette said about his new number. “I just walked out here, see a jersey in my locker, and I just go with it.”
Bequette had no reservations about making the position switch, however. He spent all of the 2014 season on the Patriots’ practice squad and appeared in just eight games total in 2012 and 2013 at defensive end.
“I was excited,” Bequette said. “I did some stuff (at tight end) last year on the look teams. I did some good things. It was a good change, and I think it was a timely transition. There’s a long way to go.”
Bequette, who has prototypical size at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, made an impressive grab on an end-zone fade Friday morning during the Patriots’ second training camp session, and he’s beginning to look like a natural in the new role. Bequette could really start to shine once the pads come on, and he’s able to be more physical, blocking at the new position.
“It’s a daily process,” Bequette said. “I’m making process and getting in that comfort zone, making it feel like you’ve always done that. I’m not there yet. There’s going to be a long way to go before I get there, but every day I make improvements. There are different things I see on film that give me confidence, and I think you’ll see that as I progress.”
It was highly unlikely Bequette would have made the Patriots roster as a defensive end, especially after they signed pass rusher Jabaal Sheard and drafted edge defenders Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers and Xzavier Dickson. He still has an uphill battle to make the team at tight end, but he could give the Patriots valuable versatility on the practice squad.
It’s obvious the Patriots like Bequette’s attitude, since he’s stuck around the team for over three seasons. He’s already beat out tight ends Fred Davis, Tim Wright and Logan Stokes, all of whom were cut since Bequette switched positions.
“It’s a competitive unit, competitive team, competitive offense, and we have a lot of good players,” Bequette said. “If I’m going to find a role, I’ve got to do some things that other guys may not do as well, and hopefully in the run game, I can bring something to the table there.”
Bequette is competing for a spot on the team with fellow tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui, Jimmay Mundine and AJ Derby. All-Pro Rob Gronkowski will start at the position, and Scott Chandler is a near-lock to make the roster based on his training camp usage so far.
Playing tight end isn’t totally unfamiliar for Bequette, who played the position in high school and during his redshirt year at Arkansas.
Bequette continued to work on running routes during the team’s five-week break between minicamp and training camp.
“I had anyone and everyone out there throwing to me,” Bequette said. “I was running routes in multiple states and locations just trying to get a better feel for the position and trying to get the point where I wasn’t totally rusty after five or six weeks off.
“Everyone from my brothers to high school quarterbacks. People in Fayettville (Ark.), Little Rock (Ark.), everyone.”
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/US PRESSWIRE
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