FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have been a fan of deploying two tight ends simultaneously for much of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era because of the versatility and flexibility the formation brings to the offense.

Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria gave way to Graham and Benjamin Watson in the first half of the 2000s. After a lull, the twin tight end look re-emerged in 2009 with rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Gronkowski was something of a solo act in 2013 and ’14, before finding himself paired with Scott Chandler (unsuccessfully) two years ago and, when healthy, Martellus Bennett (smashing) last season.

Now, it’s Dwayne Allen’s turn to be paired with Gronkowski.

“That position has been really critical for us over the years,” Brady said. “You know, tight ends that play opposite Rob get a lot of opportunity. He’s going to need to take advantage of them, and it’s going to be great for our team if he does.”

The Patriots made no effort to re-sign Bennett – presumably for financial reasons – instead acquiring Allen from the Indianapolis Colts for a 2017 fourth-round draft pick in early March.

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Allen has generally been productive since being drafted in the fourth round in 2012 after he was a consensus All-American as a senior at Clemson. He caught 45 passes as a rookie, hauled in eight touchdown passes in 2014, and had 35 receptions and six TDs in 14 games last year.

But whether Allen turns out to be more like Chandler or Bennett remains to be seen.

What is known is that the adjustment from Indy, where Allen spent his first five seasons, to New England has been challenging. He had issues with dropped passes in minicamp in early June and looked to the heavens for guidance when training camp started in late July.

“I definitely had to lean on some divine help the first couple of weeks of camp,” said the 27-year-old North Carolina native. “Just how difficult it was adjusting and really understanding how to come together as a team and be a part of a team and figure out where you fall in line in that team.

“But it’s been going great. I love it here, I love my teammates, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Allen made his preseason debut against the Texans last weekend. He played 17 nondescript snaps and wasn’t targeted for a pass.

The next opportunity to take a step forward comes Friday at Detroit in the Patriots’ third preseason game.

However, Allen candidly admitted he doesn’t believe he’ll get a true sense for where he is comfort-wise with the offense until the season kicks off Sept. 7.

“I have no idea where I stand with the offense,” he said. “It’s an offense that has developed over 17, 18 years. I hope that I’m somewhere getting toward the top as far as understanding it in its totality, but as of right now, I’m not sure.”

Which isn’t to say Allen hasn’t made progress, particularly when it comes to blocking in both the run game and pass protection. And this is one veteran who has come to work every day and done his best.

“I don’t know if he’s missed a day; he’s been really durable,” Brady said. “He’s done everything the coaches have asked of him. I mean, it’s challenging when you come into a new program (after) being in one place for a long period of time, getting used to the coaches and the schedule and the routine and the facilities and then to transition.”