New England Patriots

Ryan Izzo of the New England Patriots is tackled by Devin Bush #55 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

Patriots tight end Ryan Izzo was missing from practice on Friday, sparking more concerns about an already thin position. ESPN’S Mike Reiss later reported that Izzo was evaluated for a concussion.

Izzo joins the already-missing Matt LaCosse, who reportedly suffered an MCL sprain last Thursday against the Giants and will need to miss at least a few weeks. LaCosse has been absent from practice all week, along with receiver Josh Gordon. They’re trending toward being out on Monday at the Jets.

As for Izzo, if he does have real concussion symptoms then that would likely rule him out for Monday. If he’s not healthy, then the Patriots’ only two healthy tight ends are guys that just signed with the team days ago.

Ben Watson, however, spent the offseason with the Patriots before missing the first four weeks of the regular season due to a suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. So his time as a free agent was brief. But the team also signed former Jets and Giants TE Eric Tomlinson, who looks like more of a replacement at fullback for the injured Jakob Johnson.

Sep 8, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with wide receiver Julian Edelman (11), wide receiver Josh Gordon (10), and tight end Ryan Izzo (85) during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Add the Patriots’ tight end situation to the fact that the Pats have only four wide receivers practicing on the main roster this week, and two of them are working their way back from injuries. Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett are still on the injury report with chest and hamstring injuries, respectively.

Still, tight end remains the Patriots’ thinnest and most uncertain position group. The hope is Watson provides a spark as a pass-catcher, but they have yet to solve their blocking issues up front. Ostensibly, the likelihood for Tomlinson is he does exactly what Johnson did at fullback.

Izzo has had issues of his own both blocking and receiving. But as a 2018 seventh-round pick who redshirted as a rookie, Izzo can’t necessarily be held at fault for being thrust into such a major role on offense. Izzo has played 61.2 percent of offensive snaps, the highest workload at the position on the team.

Without him, the best case scenario is that Watson is an upgrade. From there, the situation is very cloudy.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at