On Patriots’ practice squad there’s a promising young player that seems to have finally gotten the opportunity to show his potential.
Tight end Stephen Anderson has spent the entire season on the practice unit after inking a deal with the Patriots as his tenure with the Texans has come to an end. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has noticed Anderson’s potential and shined a light onto the tight end on Friday, commending him for his versatility on the practice unit being able to take on different roles and help the team prepare for a given matchup.
“He’s done well for us,” Belichick said. “We use him in a lot of different roles in practice as well. He’s been great. He’s been one of the guys that’s been recognized on multiple weeks for the job he’s done for us, either as a big receiver or as the go-to tight end for the team that we’re playing. Also, in the kicking game. Yeah, he’s done well.”
Prior to joining the Patriots, Anderson was an undrafted free agent and has spent his entire pro career with Houston. In 2017, he played in 15 games for the Texans with five starts and was able to catch 25 of his 52 targets for 342 yards and a touchdown. During his career, Anderson has recorded 36 receptions for 435 yards and two touchdowns.
At Cal, the 6-foot-2, 230 pounder has totaled 101 passes for 1,260 yards and seven scores.
When asked if he’s viewed as more of a tight end or receiver in their system, Bill Belichick said, “He has good skill in the passing game. He’s learned all of the positions. We have a lot of different formations and the tight ends are involved in so many of those. They’re an integral part of it. He’s smart. He obviously has game experience but he’s also a versatile player that’s able to do different things.”
Among the other things, Anderson is an extremely valuable insurance policy for the Patriots tight end depth. That unit hasn’t been the most productive this season as Rob Gronkowski has managed to catch just 45 passes for 658 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Jacob Hollister has been hit with the injury bug and has been a non-factor all year, whereas Dwayne Allen is used more as a blocker inside the Patriots’ offense, rather than as a pass catching option.
All things considered, Anderson could be an intriguing project for the Patriots to work with through the summer and possibly begin making on-field contributions on the active roster for the 2019 season.