It seems things are going well for New England Patriots rookie tight end Dalton Keene behind the scenes even though the 2020 third-round pick has yet to dress for a game this season.
Keene missed Weeks 1 and 2 due to a neck injury but was a healthy scratch in the Patriots’ last two games.
“He works extremely hard,” Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley said Friday. “He’s smart, he’s tough, he plays with great effort. So, I’ve been pleased with everything, honestly, dating back to when we got into this offseason virtually. Always prepared and does a great job of trying to work his tail off, whether it’s in the playbook or at practice doing a little bit extra. I’ve been very pleased with his effort from the start.”
So, what will it take for Keene to finally make the gameday roster? It’s not as if the Patriots are receiving extensive production from the tight end position. Ryan Izzo has three catches for 44 yards while fellow rookie Devin Asiasi has yet to be targeted in four games.
“I think every week is different and ultimately that’s Coach (Bill Belichick)’s decision based on the roster makeup, based on the game plan, based on what we’re doing,” Caley said. “There are a lot of things that go into it. You can’t just point to one. I think the biggest thing that he has shown and honestly the guys in the room, the entire group has, is they’ve improved, and I’ve been pleased with the rate of improvement fundamentally from an overall understanding of the offensive standpoint. So, just got to keep going in that direction. We’re a quarter of the way through the regular season here and there’s a lot — this is the NFL. It’s about improvement and we’ve all got to do that as a group. He’s worked hard, and he’s improving every day.”
Keene was selected 101st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Belichick hinted after the draft that Keene could face a difficult transition into the Patriots’ offense.