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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Thu Apr 18 - 11:55 AM

Austin Hooper Excited to Reunite with Alex Van Pelt

Reunited with his former offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, the Patriots newest tight end is excited to put his experience to use in New England.

Patriots TE Austin Hooper
Patriots TE Austin Hooper

The Patriots have been searching for a suitable complement to Hunter Henry for three seasons now, with Jonnu Smith and Mike Gesicki unable to carve out a significant role in the offense during that time frame. This year the team will spin the dial again with tight end Austin Hooper, an eight-year veteran with 68 career starts and 25 career touchdowns.

A 2016 third-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, Hooper posted career years in 2017 and 2018, making the Pro Bowl in both seasons while posting over 70 catches in both. But his experience with Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt over two years with the Browns offers the most intrigue towards his fit in New England.

"We worked together for two years, really smart guy," said Hooper of working with Van Pelt. "It's good energy in the building and that's a huge part of it. Most people just think that it's the three hours you see on Sunday, but there's many more hours throughout the week where you're spending a lot of time together and it makes work so much better when you enjoy the people you work with. So, in his style, his approach, his offense, his understanding of personnel, who he is as a man and a coach, it's going to make it really fun to be in the building every day."

Hooper signed a one-year deal with the Patriots in the initial days of free agency and now hopes to form a potent twosome with Henry, giving New England a two-tight end set that can be difficult for defenses to contend with. His experience with Van Pelt and six different NFL offenses should help Hooper adapt.

"Going on year nine, in an offense I've been a part of before, helping the organization do what they need to do to get wins, I'm just grateful to be part of another historically really good team with a lot of awesome leadership that's been in place for a long time," said Hooper, adding of Henry, "We're the same draft class obviously. We talked a bunch at the Combine, have talked throughout the years, seen him here and there and whatnot, but 100 I'm gonna spend a bunch of time with him in the tight end room. It's gonna be a fun time. I'm looking forward to it."

Hooper's experience and versatility should give the team a lot of options to consider as they seek creative ways to pair their tight ends.

"I pride myself on being that jack of all trades type guy, a guy who can be in the slot, be comfortable in-line, maybe in the backfield picking up blitzers," said Hooper. "Being in so many different offenses I've been asked to do so many different things. So with that, at first it was a lot of, to be honest, discomfort, right? Everyone likes to be in their own comfort zone but being through all those different experiences has allowed me to become more comfortable with so many different aspects of the position."

Hooper brushed off questions about the uncertainty at the team's quarterback position, feeling assured that the personnel and coaching staff will have a plan in place. Either way, he shared his philosophy for earning any quarterback's trust.

"If you're in the right spot at the right time the quarterback loves that," said Hooper. "If you do that consistently they'll like you more. It's not like relationships and everything. It's just like, he's gonna get hit, he's gonna throw the ball to a point in space. Can he trust that you're gonna go in front of that defender and not make him look like an idiot in front of 10 million people. That's it to just put it as bluntly as possible."

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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