The New England Patriots could soon be getting much needed help in the TE room.
Rookie Devin Asiasi was practicing on Wednesday.
He has spent the last 3 weeks on IR so the question is not if he’s returning to Sunday action but when.
TE Devin Asiasi returns to practice, as his clock is started coming off IR. WR Julian Edelman remains out of practice but is making progress, according to Bill Belichick. pic.twitter.com/gr83datWQa
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 25, 2020
The Patriots selected Asiasi in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft (91st overall).
Asiasi is a California native of Samoan and Tongan descent.
He started his college career at Michigan but transferred to UCLA after this freshman year to be closer to home.
The Patriots had high expectations for the 6’3″ 260 pound Asiasi because the team has not successfully filled the void left by Rob Gronkowski.
Many believed he would become TE2 on the roster behind Ryan Izzo.
John is right. Devin Asiasi has missed 3 games so he could possibly return this week. Will be keeping a sharp eye on this week’s practice reports. Did I get that right, @mdabateFPC ? https://t.co/hidOD5I7gf
— Cap Space = $21,339,672 (@patscap) November 25, 2020
What Is Asiasi’s Injury?
That seems to be a mystery.
It is an undisclosed injury.
And Bill Belichick certainly hasn’t clarified the situation when asked after Asiasi didn’t appear on the injury report or travel with the team to Buffalo in Week 7.
“Yeah, Devin didn’t travel to Buffalo for personal reasons…It’s separate. He’s on injured reserve with an injury, not a personal situation.”
Sources reported that a close friend of Asiasi’s was killed on October 30 but no further details are available.
While that explains the personal situation, his injury has yet to be further defined.
If Asiasi is healthy, the Patriots need him on the field immediately.
They are entering a stretch of challenging games with a 4-6 record that is barely keeping them in the playoff conversation.
Those opponents include: Arizona, both Los Angeles teams (Chargers and Rams), Miami, and Buffalo.
Asiasi’s Role In Patriots Offense
Before going on IR, Asiasi was barely targeted by Cam Newton.
Cam commented on Asiasi and gave him a new nickname while doing so.
“Acai Bowl! He’s a young player that’s getting it. And hopefully we get an opportunity – or you guys, or everybody sees his growth and maturation over these last couple days and weeks – and he gets involved in the gameplan.”
Belichick On Rookie Tight Ends
Coach Bill Belichick has talked about what a tough season this is for NFL rookies, given the abbreviated preseason and no preseason games.
Recall that the Patriots drafted two tight ends in the third round this year.
Besides Asiasi, there is Dalton Keene.
It’s unclear if there is a competition of sorts between the two rookies, but what we do know is that Belichick is watching both closely (prior to Asiasi’s stint on IR) at practice.
In typical Belichick fashion, he talked around the issue of Asiasi and Keene and made this vague statement.
“Some of that’s based on practice competition, but some of it’s based on performance as well. A guy goes out there and plays well, he’s going to continue to get opportunities to play. And the player, in order to gain those opportunities, has to perform well in the opportunities that he gets, which may be practice if only one guy’s active. So that would be his opportunity to play.”