James O’Shaughnessy motivated to provide some payback to Chiefs in opener
FOXBORO — James O’Shaughnessy has a special incentive to be on the Patriots’ 53-man roster for the season opener Sept. 7.
It’s about payback.
The Patriots begin their Super Bowl defense against the Kansas City Chiefs, who selected the tight end in the fifth round in 2015 then dealt him to New England during the 2017 draft. The Chiefs sent O’Shaughnessy and the 216th overall pick to the Pats for the 183rd overall choice.
O’Shaughnessy has not forgotten.
“Believe me, I think we all know it’s (the Chiefs), especially myself, and it’s going to be exciting,” he said yesterday. “You couldn’t ask for a better first game with the Patriots.”
O’Shaughnessy is in a tight battle with rookie free agent Jacob Hollister and Matt Lengel for the third tight end spot behind Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. He missed a chunk of training camp because of an undisclosed injury and watched as Hollister made seven receptions for 116 yards in the preseason opener against Jacksonville.
In the second preseason game last Saturday, O’Shaughnessy made the most of his opportunities with five catches for 45 yards in a 27-23 loss at Houston.
Lengel, who played six games and had two receptions for the Pats last season, has been injured and is lagging behind.
Both Hollister and O’Shaughnessy can expect close scrutiny from the coaching staff when the Patriots take on the Lions on Friday in Detroit.
“I’ve been fortunate with the players and coaches helping me acclimate to everything that is new with the Patriots offense and the Patriots organization,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Every game, there are good things and bad things, but the important thing is to take it one play at a time and grow as much as you can.”
O’Shaughnessy spent his down time in training camp observing how Gronkowski interacts with Tom Brady and the other quarterbacks. Allen is a fellow newcomer but has been helpful as well.
“They have been great, and the whole tight end (room) has really helped me out, especially the veterans,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I couldn’t ask for better leaders in that group, and I’m really fortunate for that.”
O’Shaughnessy was a productive tight end at Illinois State. The Chiefs selected him to add a 6-foot-4, 245-pound target to their passing attack, and he also proved to be a big hitter on coverage teams. O’Shaughnessy appeared in seven games with three starts as a rookie before suffering a season-ending foot injury.
He participated in 16 games with three starts last year and appeared as a reserve in the Chiefs’ AFC postseason loss to the Steelers.
The Patriots took a low-cost flyer on O’Shaughnessy, who parted with the Chiefs on good terms.
“I had a blast. . . . They obviously drafted me, so I can’t thank them enough,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I learned a lot there.”
But he wouldn’t mind dropping a bit of knowledge — like why it was too soon to move on from him — on the Chiefs when they arrive next month.