FOXBOROUGH, Mass -- Patriots tight end Daniel Fells is used to change.
In fact, he seems to embrace it, describing himself Tuesday as “a bit of a chameleon.”
It began in college at UC-Davis, when the coaching staff saw enough in its oversized receiver to successfully transition him to tight end, a switch that would prove to pay off for Fells in his ascension to the NFL.
But finding success as a pro wasn’t always so easy for Fells, who didn’t make his NFL debut until the middle of the 2008 season, more than two years after he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.
Six years and five teams after first landing in the NFL, Fells has found a new home in New England. Finally.
He entered the free agency market in 2010 when the St. Louis Rams opted not to tender the would-be restricted free agent. That led to a visit to New England, but Fells eventually decided to return to the Rams on a one-year deal.
“It ultimately boiled down to a business thing. I let my agent handle things like that,” Fells said Tuesday in his first public appearance at Gillette Stadium since he was signed by the Patriots. “All things happen for a reason, and it didn’t work out then, but things came full circle and it worked out for us this year.”
And although leaving Denver (where Fells played in 2011) meant yet another change of scenery, the 28-year doesn’t let the NFL’s pack-up-and-go lifestyle affect him.
“This is my sixth team. It’s one of those things that you just take in stride,” Fells said. “A lot of times people get discouraged by something like that, where you end up gong to different teams, and it’s like the first day of school. You go to a new school and you’re kind of meeting new people with different personalities. You get a little anxious about it. Like you said, I’ve done it so many times, I kind of just take everything in stride.”
That might mean fewer passes thrown in his direction than he is used to, but Fells doesn’t have trouble finding the value in joining a New England offense quarterbacked by Tom Brady.
“Traditionally, just looking at this offense, Tom’s going to find the open man.” said Fells, who has averaged about 1.5 receptions per game over the course of his career. "That’s definitely something that appeals to everybody.”
He added that New England is not an offense focused on a single player, but one that embraces a collective approach.
“From an offensive standpoint they go out there and they put up points, they find the open man, it’s not just about one player, like you have two good tight ends,” Fells said. “There’s not a lot of teams that use both tight ends and get them all kinds of catches. There’s usually just one guy that stands out, and you have a bunch of players that are standing out on this offense.”
A season ago, Fells was part of a locker room where one player, quarterback Tim Tebow, did stand out. He described “Tebowmania” as a “circus,” noting the incredible amount of media coverage the team received.
In New England, he’ll play alongside another quarterback who attracts a heavy share of media attention, but based on Fells’ remarks about Brady, that’s yet another change he’s relishing.
“I’m excited about that one. … It’s Tom Brady, one of the greatest guys out there.”