What Dalton Keene’s Move To IR Means For Patriots Tight End

Keene had yet to take the field in training camp

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Scratch one name off the New England Patriots’ list of roster hopefuls at tight end.

The Patriots on Saturday placed second-year tight end Dalton Keene on injured reserve, ending his season before the team’s first preseason game.

Because he was moved to IR before cutdown day, Keene will be ineligible to play for the Patriots this season. The only way he could play in 2021 is if New England releases him with an injury settlement and he signs with another club.

Players who are placed on IR during the season are allowed to return after sitting out three games.

Keene recently underwent knee surgery, per a report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

Drafted in the third round out of Virginia Tech, Keene appeared in just six games as a rookie last season — catching three passes on five targets for 16 yards — and was viewed as a long shot to crack the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster this summer.

New England overhauled its tight end room in free agency, with high-priced newcomers Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith pushing Keene, Devin Asiasi and Matt LaCosse to the roster bubble. Keene, Asiasi and Ryan Izzo combined for the fewest receptions by any NFL tight end group last season, totaling just 18.

Offseason speculation suggested Keene could shift into more of a fullback/H-back role in Year 2 — potentially pushing Jakob Johnson off the roster — but his injury prevented him from participating in any training camp practices.

The Patriots also placed linebacker Raekwon McMillan on IR on Saturday and signed linebacker Cassh Maluia.

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