Fallout From Patriots Placing Malcolm Mitchell On Injured Reserve


September 7, 2017

If New England Patriots fans are having flashbacks to the 2015 seasons, it’s understandable. The Patriots suddenly are shallow at wide receiver.

Fortunately, the Patriots, despite losing Julian Edelman for the season with a torn ACL and Malcolm Mitchell for at least eight weeks on injured reserve, are in better shape, for now, than they were in 2015, when players like Chris Harper, Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson and Damaris Johnson were receiving snaps.

Mitchell’s injury puts significantly more pressure on Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola, however. And Phillip Dorsett better get caught up quickly. He’s an injury away from being the team’s No. 3 receiver less than a week after arriving from the Indianapolis Colts in a trade.

One would imagine the Patriots are having second thoughts about using Danny Amendola as their top punt returner this season after Mitchell was placed on IR. Amendola likely will man the slot for the Patriots and could see more targets this season than he’s ever received in a Patriots uniform. Amendola has suffered injuries in consecutive seasons on punt returns, and the Patriots absolutely can’t afford to lose him as a wide receiver.

It’s possible Amendola will play it safe Thursday night with fair catches against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, but the Patriots eventually need another player to take on that role.

Once Dorsett gets up to speed, Amendola and Hogan likely will share the Patriots’ slot role. We at NESN.com already were high on Hogan coming into the season, but now the pressure is one him even more to potentially replace Edelman as quarterback Tom Brady’s most trusted target. Hogan likely will see a different role in 2017 than he had in 2016 as the Patriots’ deep target. Now he’ll likely run more underneath routes while Cooks and Dorsett use their speed to fly downfield.

Mitchell’s placement on injured reserve also makes one wonder why the Patriots didn’t hold on to either Austin Carr or Devin Lucien, two fan favorites, at the 53-man cutdown. Carr was claimed by the New Orleans Saints, and Lucien can’t sign with the Patriots for three weeks, per his injury settlement with the team, a source told NESN.com.

Obviously, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was willing to risk losing Carr and Amendola on waivers, otherwise he wouldn’t have waived them. But Carr and Lucien are players who know the offense and would be valuable to store on the 53-man roster in case of injuries. The Patriots might have to look outside the organization to acquire more receiver depth, unless they’re confident in practice squad wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers.

If Cooks, Hogan and Amendola can stay healthy in 2017, then the Patriots’ offense still will be one of the NFL’s most intimidating with Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen at tight end and Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis at running back.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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