Unheralded group looking to fill Patriots’ tight end void

Jake Ballard is knocking the rust off.

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FOXBOROUGH — Seemingly overnight, a position of strength for the Patriots, a position that was arguably the strongest in the NFL, became a question mark: tight end.

With Rob Gronkowski undergoing surgeries on his arm and then back and Aaron Hernandez now released after being charged with murder, New England is currently left with three unheralded players and two rookies to try to approximate the production it has gotten from Gronkowski and Hernandez in recent seasons.

Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Michael Hoomanawanui, as well as Brandon Ford and Zach Sudfeld, both undrafted, enter camp trying to prove that they can step in admirably.

The situation had coach Bill Belichick alluding to the tale of Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig during his Saturday morning news conference.

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