ESPN identifies Patriots player as potential 2022 bounce-back candidate

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Several members of the New England Patriots are looking to bounce back after struggling in 2021.

The Patriots had tremendous team success last season, making it to the first round of the playoffs. However, some individual players struggled, including tight end Jonnu Smith.

Smith was billed as one of New England’s premier free agent signings of 2021, but he only caught 28 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Henry was the team’s go-to target at the position, as Smith never found his groove.

He struggled particularly in the back-half of the season, receiving only four targets for five yards in the final four games.

However, there are some in the media that believe better things are in store for Smith in his second year with the organization. ESPN’s Mike Reiss identified Smith as one of the league’s bounce-back candidates in 2022.

Reiss wrote:

“Smith spent the entire offseason in New England, which he didn’t do in 2021 due to a combination of COVID-19 considerations and anticipating the birth of his daughter. Offensive assistant Joe Judge said Smith had a “terrific” offseason, and that has shown up early in training camp. A change at offensive coordinator might also benefit Smith, who seemed to fall out of favor with Josh McDaniels after some early struggles last season.”

A productive Smith would add another layer to the Patriots offense.

The team has been looking for a strong two-tight end set for quite a while now, and they might finally accomplish that goal with a rejuvenated Smith back in the mix.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire