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Hawks in the NFL: Tight ends searching for targets

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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Aside from offensive linemen, Iowa football might not produce more NFL players at any position than it does at tight end. Many of these players, such as C.J. Fiedorowicz, serve primarily as an extra blocking body on the line of scrimmage.

Others provide a slight boost in the passing game, although their production at the professional level has dipped in recent seasons. For the most part, they are now backups at their position and figure to play minimal roles in the passing game of their respective teams.

Scott Chandler, New England Patriots

No one enters a better situation than Chandler, whom the Patriots signed in the off-season to back up superstar Rob Gronkowski. The eight-year veteran remains a capable target in the passing game, catching 47 balls for 497 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2014.

Given that he’ll catch passes from future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady, Chandler figures to put up respectable numbers for the defending champs.

The Patriots like using two tight ends, especially big bodies such as the 6-7 Chandler, who can run down the seams — often drawing coverage from slower linebackers and undersized safeties.

In addition, Gronkowski has a history of injuries. If he misses significant time, the Patriots are in trouble. But if he were to miss a game or two, Chandler is the type of guy who can step in and give the team decent production.

His main concern entering training camp is developing a rapport with Brady so the two are on the same page for the start of the regular season.

Brandon Myers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

At one point, Myers was one of the more effective receiving tight ends in the game. The 2012 season was his best by far; he caught 79 passes for 806 yards as member of the Oakland Raiders. In 2013 with the New York Giants, those numbers dipped to 47 receptions for 522 yards.

In 2014 with the Buccaneers, he started just six games, compiling 22 catches and 190 yards in a lackluster passing attack that ranked 25th in yards per game and second in interceptions thrown.
Tampa Bay extended Myers in the off-season through 2016 so they could lower his base salary for 2015. As of now, he’s expected to start the season at No. 2 at tight end on the depth chart.

The team believes it has a rising superstar in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, an athletic big body whose rookie season of 2014 was hampered by injuries — he has the starting spot all but locked up.

Myers’ best chance at earning playing time is proving in camp that he can be a safety blanket for rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Particularly on third down and in the red zone, Myers must show he can be a situational playmaker.

Otherwise, he’ll be largely reserved for power-running packages.

Tony Moeaki, Atlanta Falcons

Moeaki, believe it or not, enters Falcons’ training camp at full health and has a real chance to win the starting gig.

The competition lies between him and former Bronco Jacob Tamme. His athletic potential still remains, but staying on the field is a constant struggle.

His days as a Kansas City Chief seem far in the past, and yet Moeaki has managed to stay in the NFL to this point.

If he can make it through training camp unscathed, he’ll take part in an offense with Matt Ryan at quarterback and receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White on the outside — leaving potential opportunities in the middle of the field.

Moeaki could be an integral part of a prolific offense if he stays healthy — something he hasn’t done over his six years in the NFL.


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