James Develin played defensive end in college. When he arrived in the NFL, he was switched to offense and carved out a niche as a fullback. Now it appears as if he's on the move once again.
Throughout the spring Develin has worked with the tight ends, taking part in drills under the watch of coach Brian Daboll. He still lines up in the backfield on occasion, but most of his time has been spent on the line and the former Brown standout is enjoying the experience.
"It's a little different but fullback is pretty closely tied to tight end," Develin said. "I'm trying to get out there and do what's best for the team and wherever they need me is where I'll play. "I'm just trying to do my best wherever they put me."
With Rob Gronkowski still on the shelf coming of surgery to repair his torn ACL, Develin actually could be seen as the team's No. 2 tight end at the moment. Michael Hoomanawanui is the lone player at the position with any significant experience for the Patriots while D.J. Williams, who was with the team briefly down the stretch last season, is also out of the lineup for undisclosed reasons.
Undrafted rookies Justin Jones and Asa Watson are the only other tight ends currently with the team, so opportunities have presented themselves for Develin all spring. He took advantage of one on Tuesday when he caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady after lining up on the line.
"I have to seize every opportunity, every snap they put me out there I have to do my best," Develin said. "Along with a lot of these rookies, we're all getting a good amount of reps in OTAs and we have to get out there and do the job right."
While the positioning may be different, Develin maintained the positions have lots in common. However, there are some differences and Develin admitted he's still getting used to some of them.
"You have a little bit more time when you're coming out of the backfield to decipher things and the collisions are a little bigger too," he said with a laugh. "There's a little bit of differences and there are some things that take some adjusting coming out of a stance when the guy is standing right in front of you, but I'm just trying to get acclimated to that and get used to it and do my best."
While Develin could conceivably provide some depth at tight end, the Patriots have still been tied to veterans Dustin Keller and Jermichael Finley. New England reportedly met with both in the past but neither has signed. With Develin appearing more comfortable at the spot, perhaps the need for a veteran will diminish.