With Bear Pascoe filling in at fullback while Henry Hynoski recovers from knee surgery, second-year tight end Adrien Robinson has been taking advantage of the extra reps that are now available to impress New York Giants coaches. Robinson, however, is not the only young tight end to have made a mark during OTAs.
Chase Clement, an undrafted free agent from LSU and one of the last players added to the current 90-man roster, is reminding tight ends coach Mike Pope of a former Giants tight end.
"When I first looked at him I had visions of Jake Ballard. Just because he was a good blocker on the goal line. They (LSU) seldom ever threw him the ball. But when the ball was snapped he had kind of that tough-guy mentality – old school," Pope said.
Ballard came to the Giants as an undrafted free agent and spent most of the 2010 season on the practice squad. In 2011 he replaced Kevin Boss and caught 38 passes in 14 games, helping the Giants to a Super Bowl title. After being claimed on waivers prior to the 2012 season, Ballard is now a member of the New England Patriots.
Clement is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds. He caught only 14 passes in three seasons after being converted from the defensive line. The Giants, however, like what they see.
"We looked and looked and looked," Pope said. "He is not going to be an all-world receiver way down the field, but as far as being explosive and flexible, and he has pretty good football savvy. I think there is something to work with there."
Clement participated in the Giants' rookie mini-camp, but was not originally signed.
"There was a little concern about a back injury. We got that looked at and there doesn’t appear to be a problem," Pope said. "They just had to do more research on him."
When the Giants signed Clement head coach Tom Coughlin said the organization believes Clement can play both tight end and possibly work some at fullback. Pope also said that Clement "can rifle the deep snap" and might have an NFL future doing that.
"Those kinds of guys – often times maybe they don’t have the speed that you might be looking for to be a marquee player. But they are necessary on your team," Pope said.
None of Pope's early praise guarantees that Clement will end up making the 53-man roster, or even the practice squad. It does, however, make him an intriguing player to keep an eye on during mini-camp this week and training camp in August.