O'Brien tries to temper TE expectations

Because of these guys expectations are soaring for Penn State's tight ends. David Butler II/US Presswire

The New England Patriots boast the most prolific tight end duo in NFL history, so the comparisons to Penn State have been inevitable.

But just knock it off already, coach Bill O'Brien said Thursday.

"I know a lot's been made of that, and I think we all need to be really careful because the two tight ends we have in New England are two of the best in the NFL," the' former Patriots quarterbacks coach said. "And we're not asking our guys at Penn State to be Rob Gronkowskis and Aaron Hernandezes. ... We need to stop the comparisons."

New England's two tight ends last year combined for 169 receptions, 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns. Penn State passed for just 64 yards more than that last year — and tossed 14 fewer scores. So, it's no surprise that excitement about the new passing attack has been palpable.

With talk of two starting tight ends and sets featuring three, Penn State's offense might no longer be vanilla, but O'Brien reiterated Thursday that it's not New England either.

"We've got four, five guys that we can play," he added, "and we feel good about the decision."

Redshirt freshman Kyle Carter will start at Tight End-F, which focuses on receiving, while Garry Gilliam will be the Tight End-Y starter. Jesse James and Matt Lehman are also expected to see playing time in what should be the most unique part of the Nittany Lion offense.