Patriots: Smith & Henry relishing the opportunity to play together in New England

First there was Daniel Graham and Ben Watson. Then, it was Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Now, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are hoping to deploy their next great tight end tandem when the season opens Sunday at Gillette Stadium against Miami. Henry is entering his sixth NFL season while Smith is entering his fifth and the pair has already been feeding off each other’s energy on and off the field.

“It’s been great, us feeding off each other’s energy, working to push each other in practice, in the weight room,” Smith said. “The greatest part of it is that’s my guy and I’m his guy. We’ve got each other’s back. I’ve got his back and I know he’s got my back. It’s especially good to have a guy like that around with his play making ability and it’s definitely something we can bring to the table, part of my game will rub off on him and part of his game will rub off on me and it’ll just help us be better.”

Henry hasn’t been on the field much throughout camp alongside Smith, but he’s back now and echoed many of the same sentiments that Smith did regarding their relationship.

“It’s been fun,” said Henry. “We missed that for a little bit in camp, both of us not being out there, but it’s fun…once we’re out there rolling it’s a good competition. Just being able to build that chemistry with him while we’re on the field, talk through things, see how I see things, see how he sees things, bounce things off each other.

He’s a tremendous player and is only going to continue to get better so it’s fun to be in that room with him and to compete with him.”

Aside from Matthew Judon, Henry and Smith were the two biggest pieces the Patriots picked up in the offseason. After having little to no production from the position in 2020, both guys are going to be relied on heavily with a rookie quarterback under center. Speaking of that rookie QB, what do the guys think of how he’s doing so far?

“He’s a hard worker and he’s earned it,” Smith said of Jones as a leader. “He’s a great guy off the field and we’re just ready to ride with him.”

“Mac’s done a great job and he’s continued to get better every single day becoming a leader,” added Henry. “He’s grasping the offense and he’s doing a great job. I’m excited to get out there and compete with him this weekend.”

Playing for a new team or starting a new season is always going to be exciting for a player, but to say Sunday can’t come fast enough for Smith or Henry would be a severe understatement.

“It’s kind of a new energy, I’m excited to be playing at home in front of our fans,” Henry said. “It’s going to be a blast welcoming fans back after a year without fans. It’s going to be a fun Sunday so I think we’re all looking forward to it.”

“I say this all the time, it’s like the first day of school,” added Smith. “It’s like the first day of school, lay your clothes out on the bed. I’ll be in the hotel room just looking at the wall…we’ve got to stop talking about this now because I’m getting those Week 1 feels right now, we’ve got to wait a couple more days.”