FOXBOROUGH — Patriots tight end Ryan Izzo isn’t trying to be Rob Gronkowski.
He’s just trying to be consistent.
“That’s how you earn trust,” Izzo said Tuesday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. “That’s how you earn more opportunities in the future.”
Gaining the trust of quarterback Tom Brady is no easy task for the 2018 seventh-round draft pick, who made his NFL debut this year after spending his rookie season on injured reserve. But as one of two tight ends on the roster — Ben Watson was released Monday and the retired Gronkowski just joined Fox as an NFL studio analyst — Izzo is doing his best to get up to speed.
The connection will take time and require “a lot of hard work,” Izzo said, so he’s been studying the playbook as well as film featuring Gronk and former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett. Izzo noted his focus is on the details in all facets of his position — not just route running. He’s working, for example, on his footwork and hand placement so he can block more effectively in the run game, too.
“I’m always constantly trying to improve,” said Izzo. “Consistency is one of the most important things I try to preach every week, whether that’s in the run game, pass game, or special teams.”
The 23-year-old Florida State product had the best outing of his NFL career Sunday against the Redskins, scoring his first touchdown and going home with the game ball.
“You never want to max out your ceiling in your fifth game,” Izzo said. “I’m always constantly trying to improve.”
Barring personnel moves, Izzo and Matt LaCosse remain at the top of New England’s depth chart at tight end. LaCosse, who is dealing with a sprained ankle suffered during preseason, has appeared in three games this season. LaCosse was on the field for 94 percent of the team’s offensive snaps Sunday, catching one of his four targets for 22 yards.
“They’re both younger players that are developing and we feel like have some upside,” coach Bill Belichick said. “They’ve done a decent job for us. They certainly have a ways to go, but have had enough production that we want to keep working with them.”
Asked about his comfort level with Izzo and LaCosse, Brady didn’t offer much.
“I’m the quarterback, so I don’t make those decisions,” he said. “Whoever’s out there, that’s who I’ve got to play with.”
All parties involved, however, expressed an interest in building their relationships through practice reps and increased communication.
“The more you play with each other, it’s going to get better and better,” LaCosse said.
“The load is on me and LaCosse,” added Izzo. “We’re going to make the most of our opportunities.”
Dorsett a DNP
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett did not participate in practice Tuesday, remaining sidelined with the hamstring injury he suffered in the first quarter Sunday.
Running back Rex Burkhead (foot), linebacker Shilique Calhoun (ankle), safety Patrick Chung (heel), safety Nate Ebner (groin), wide receiver Julian Edelman (chest), and wide receiver Josh Gordon (knee) were limited in practice.
Barkley likely out
Running back Saquon Barkley likely will miss Thursday’s game, according to ESPN.
Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain during Week 3, a win over the Buccaneers, and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
But Barkley hasn’t been officially ruled out, and intends to travel with the team to Foxborough, according to the New York Post.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur was asked Tuesday about Barkley missing Thursday’s game and said: “You didn’t hear that from me.”
Barkley told reporters he was taking his recovery “day by day.”
Barkley said Sunday he didn’t think his recovery would take that long.
“How can anyone tell me how long I’m supposed to be out?” Barkley asked an NFL Network reporter. “ . . . Everyone’s putting these messages out there and no one heard from my mouth that I’m out 6-to-8 weeks. That made no sense at all.”
According to ESPN, Barkley will not be able to get medical clearance to take on the Patriots.
That leaves rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, starting in just his fourth game, without one of his top weapons.
To make matters worse for the Giants, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Wayne Gallman, who has been playing in place of Barkley, have been dealing with concussions. Tight end Evan Engram was limited by a knee injury Tuesday.
Gallman was injured during the Giants’ loss Sunday to the Vikings, which left just undrafted rookie Jon Hilliman, who played at Boston College, and Eli Penny, a fullback, on the depth chart.
Patriots captain Matthew Slater is not happy about “Thursday Night Football.” Slater, who has voiced his distaste for the Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround in previous years, said the demands of an NFL game and the subsequent recovery are too taxing on the body. “It doesn’t fit under the umbrella of player safety, as far as I’m concerned,” Slater said . . . Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is on the hunt for a logo representing his position group’s new nickname, “The Boogeymen,” which was coined by Dont’a Hightower after Sunday’s victory. One person who will not be submitting an entry is safety Devin McCourty. “I’m going to continue to make fun of them for that,” McCourty said . . . Belichick did not express concern that defensive end Michael Bennett’s snap count is down this season compared with years past. Belichick called Bennett “a smart player” and valued his 11 years of NFL experience. “I don’t really care what happened on some other team,” he said.
Katie McInerney of the Globe staff contributed from Boston.