FOXBORO — New England Patriots tight end Ryan Izzo knows the opportunity is there for the taking. And in the Patriots’ third preseason game on Thursday night, he made the most of it.
“It felt good,” Izzo said after the Patriots’ 10-3 win over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. “You know, you always have to go back and look at film, but you know, right now I’m happy about it.”
The Patriots’ tight end depth chart is widely uncertain, especially with Ben Watson entering concussion protocol following a dirty hit by Eric Reid in the first half. However, Watson is suspended the first four games of the regular season anyway.
Izzo started the game at tight end and played a majority of snaps with the first-team offense with quarterback Tom Brady under center. Izzo made a noteworthy play to set up the game’s lone touchdown, which ultimately gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead following a touchdown run by fullback James Develin.
On the play, Brady dropped back on first down and fired a bullet into tight coverage, with Izzo leaping and making a contested grab for an 18-yard reception, showing his hands in the process. It was Izzo’s lone reception of the game, as he was only targeted twice, but was still a very promising sign for the second-year Patriot.
And he was able to help out in the run game as well. It was Izzo’s block that made room for Sony Michel’s 30-yard gain on the Patriots’ second offensive possession of the game. The play, however, was called back due to a hold.
“You know if it’s run game, pass game again, or special teams, I just want to make the most of those opportunities,” said Izzo, a Florida State product who missed his rookie season due to injury. “I was just happy I had that year last year to really get in the playbook and in the weight room too.”
His play was moderately praised by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, too.
“I think everybody’s competing, everybody’s getting better. Ryan’s certainly done that,” Belichick said Thursday. “He’s had much more of an opportunity to play this year because of his health, his good health. We’ll just evaluate him along with everybody else.”
Harmon expresses support for Chung
When Belichick was asked after the game about Patrick Chung, who was indicted for cocaine possession on Thursday, he referenced the statement the Patriots put out. But Chung was still a topic in the locker room, specifically for Duron Harmon, who filled Chung’s void as he started at safety.
“Obviously, Pat is a great guy,” Harmon told reporters. “A leader, a captain, a great father. I can’t talk (enough) about all the good things about Pat. All I can say now is — it’s an ongoing investigation — so all I can say now is we’re rooting for Pat. We love Pat. We’re going to rally behind Pat.”
“At this point, one of our leaders was down, so other guys had to step up in his place,” Harmon added. “Obviously, you can’t take Pat’s place. He’s a tremendous football player, a tremendous leader, but other players had to step up and they did.”
Chung was charged in Meredith, New Hampshire, where he has a residence. The incident was “on or around” June 25, and he was indicted earlier this month. Chung’s arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday.
Brady, Dorsett show unmatched chemistry
Third-year Patriot receiver Phillip Dorsett caught all seven balls thrown his way as he was the most experienced pass-catcher on the field. And beyond his stats — seven receptions, 47 yards — Dorsett proved exactly why he should make the Patriots’ 53-man roster.
“Phillip is a guy that I’ve played a lot of football with, and I have a lot of trust in,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “Experience is a great thing in football if you use it well, and I think our experience together pays off. I read his body language.
“I think the great thing about Phil, he takes advantage of his opportunities,” Brady added. “A lot of guys have been injured this preseason. Phil plays all three wide receiver positions, remembers all the coaching points from all the times we’ve talked about certain things. Even though he may not have done it, he goes in there and does it the way that Coach wants it done. I love playing with Phil. He’s been a great contributor to our team, and he had a great night.”