FOXBORO, Mass. — Matt Lengel has been on the Patriots’ roster since Nov. 2, but only New England’s diehard fans knew his name before Saturday, when he made his first NFL catch, an 18-yard touchdown from Tom Brady in a 41-3 win over the New York Jets.
Lengel’s phone has been blowing up ever since.
“A lot of — I had to put my phone down after a while and just try to enjoy the day — holiday and (Tuesday’s) my birthday,” Lengel said. “After a while, my fiancee is in town, I just had to put the phone down. The game was great. We watched the film, and there’s a lot of things to still learn from and try to fix this week in practice.”
Lengel, who spent 2015 and the beginning of the 2016 season on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad, is trying to maintain a humble approach. He’s doing a good job so far.
“Everybody’s wondering who the heck I am,” Lengel said. “I don’t listen to the phone. I don’t listen to Twitter. I don’t listen to that stuff. For me it’s always been — it’s crazy the amount of people that have reached out or where I’ve seen my name. My family’s sending me an article I hadn’t seen before or whatever. At the same time, I’m sitting there with my fiancee, and we’re trying to figure out where we’re going to go to dinner. Nothing really changes.”
Head coach Bill Belichick gave a brief scouting report on Lengel on Tuesday during a conference call when asked about the tight end’s speed. Lengel, who’s 6-foot-7, 266 pounds, ran a 4.94-second 40-yard dash with a 7.26-second 3-cone drill, 4.33-second short shuttle and 1.66-second 10-yard split.
“Well, you know, a lot of those guys that are long, whether it’s a player even like Randy (Moss), they chew up a lot of ground in a couple of strides,” Belichick said. “And so sometimes it doesn’t appear that they’re moving as fast as a player with a shorter stride but just turning over faster, but they’re actually running faster and covering more ground. The time we had on him coming out I’d say I think he runs and plays a little faster than that.
“But yeah, you know, a lot of it is game speed. The timed speed is the timed speed but game speed is game speed. He runs well in practice. He’s able to cover ground getting down the field, but again, length is definitely a part of that because when you’re throwing to a big guy, whether it’s a guy like Randy or Rob (Gronkowski) or Lengel, it’s just a lot bigger target, so you don’t have to get as much separation or get as far behind the player that’s covering you. You just have to be able to get a little bit behind him and have some space where the quarterback can put the ball.”
Lengel’s catch was impressive for a player who caught just 34 passes for 367 yards with two touchdowns at Eastern Kentucky in college. He’s the lone backup tight end on the Patriots’ roster behind Martellus Bennett with Rob Gronkowski and Greg Scruggs on injured reserve.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images