ATLANTA — Tight end Stephen Anderson had a humbling season, but his time on the New England Patriots’ practice squad could pay dividends down the road.

After going undrafted out of California, Anderson played 28 games with the Houston Texans in 2016 and 2017. He caught 25 passes for 342 yards with one touchdown in 15 games and five starts in 2017 but wasn’t in the Texans’ plans this season. He was waived Sept. 1 and signed to the Patriots’ practice squad Sept. 6. He stayed there until the Patriots finally signed him to their active roster Jan. 8.

He believes the time was well spent.

“Even though I have not played a snap this season, this is probably my most improved year,” Anderson said. “And how that came about was I’m playing different people during practice.

“I’m glad that I was put in this position to kind of take a step back and develop my game slowly but surely. I played a lot of people. I’ve been in positions I’m not comfortable with as well as I’ve been in positions I am comfortable with. There are certain things I learned that I can do, certain things that I learned that I need to develop on.”

Anderson said his favorite players to imitate in practice were Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron.

The Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII matchup with the Los Angeles Rams is just three days away, but Anderson, who likely will be inactive in the big game, also has an eye toward training camp.

“Very excited,” Anderson said. “I feel like this last month I’ve just been brainstorming of what I need to do in the offseason to elevate my game and show these coaches what they need to see for me to be on the field. Yeah, I’m just trying to take it slow. I want to plan for the future, but at first, I want to get my rest.”

Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images