FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s a good chance you’ll see more of New England Patriots tight end Jacob Hollister on offense this season. It would be tough to see less of him.
Hollister played just 7.55 percent of offensive snaps and caught four passes for 42 yards as a rookie in 2017. He’s projected to take on a much bigger role in 2018 as a potential Julian Edelman replacement as the wide receiver serves a four-game suspension.
Hollister isn’t feeling the heat as the regular season nears.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any added pressure at all,” Hollister said. “We’ve constantly had a team mentality of doing your job and being ready when your name’s called, so I’m really just ready to do whatever the team asks of me. And that’s been the past year and a half.”
Hollister has been slowed by a hamstring injury and missed the last two games of the preseason. He was limited in practice Wednesday.
“I feel good,” Hollister said. “I’m out there practicing and stuff, feeling pretty good. Just doing everything I can.”
Prior to his injury, Hollister appeared to be making strides in practice as he worked on gaining quarterback Tom Brady’s trust. Brady seemed jazzed by Hollister’s willingness to continue working after practice following an August session.
“I think that’s really important and Jake has no problem doing it,” Brady said. “I mean, he’ll do it all day so probably calling off the dogs a little bit at the end. … The better — the things we do better more often is going to contribute to being more productive on the field, moving the ball and scoring more points. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Hollister said any opportunity to get 1-on-1 reps with Brady is “huge.” And the 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end has picked up a lot in those sessions.
“I’ve learned a ton, not only the specifics of being a football player but when it comes to his mentality and how he approaches every day,” Hollister said. “He’s such a great leader and a guy you can learn from every single day by what he does. Along with the other guys on the team, really. I’ve learned so much from so many guys on this team, because we have a lot of special guys, so it’s been pretty cool.”
Being productive in the Patriots’ offense is as much about knowing the playbook and getting timing down with Brady as it is about talent. With nearly a year and a half in the Patriots’ system under his belt, Hollister, who has the physical tools to be a receiving threat, could be in for a big year.
“It’s all repetition,” Hollister said. “You just need a lot of reps with your quarterback, and he’s got to trust that you’re going to be at the right place at the right time. So, it’s all about trust and knowing that you’re going to do your job the right way.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said earlier in the offseason that Hollister has a “bright future.” With Edelman suspended and Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chad Hansen and Matthew Slater filling out the receiving corps, the future is now for Hollister. The Patriots likely are to rely on more two-tight end and two-running back sets early in the season. Hollister is likely to share the No. 2 tight end role with Dwayne Allen. Hollister is the bigger receiving threat, while Allen is a better blocker.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images