The New England Patriots hope to see more opportunities for Phillip Dorsett over the final eight games of this season.
Dorsett has been buried on the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart since arriving from the Indianapolis Colts in the Jacoby Brissett trade, serving as the clear No. 4 behind Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola.
The 24-year-old speedster has played just 113 offensive snaps through eight games — fifth-fewest among all Patriots players who have seen the field on offense this season. He’s been targeted just eight times, catching four passes for 85 yards.
With Hogan now nursing a shoulder injury, however, Dorsett could play a more prominent role in this Sunday night’s matchup with the Denver Broncos. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Monday the team wants to get him more involved in the offense.
“Phillip’s a smart kid,” McDaniels said in a conference call with reporters. “He works hard. He’s got a good work ethic, good attitude, and he’s continued to work at playing different spots and being ready to go when his opportunities come up. And hopefully, that’ll continue to progress as we go through the season. I know that’s what he wants. I know that’s what we want, and we’re looking forward to that.”
Three of Dorsett’s four catches came against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 while Amendola was sidelined with a concussion. His other reception was a 17-yarder in a Week 4 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw Dorsett’s way three times during New England’s Week 6 win over the New York Jets. Two passes resulted in incompletions, and one was intercepted. Brady also was picked off while targeting Dorsett in the end zone the following week, but a roughing the passer penalty negated that interception.
Acquired just days before the regular season began, Dorsett did not have the benefit of going through an entire offseason and preseason with the Patriots. In an effort to lessen the learning curve, he’s put in extra work with wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea.
“Phillip, he came in and didn’t really have a lot of extra practices from camp and the spring like most of our guys did,” McDaniels said. “He just kind of got thrown in there, and he’s really doing a good job of working hard, working extra with Coach O’Shea. Chad’s done a great job of trying to get him caught up on some of the foundational things that you need to be able to from one week to the next and feel like you’re not learning a new offense every single week.”
The Patriots’ passing attack has been tremendously balanced this season, with Cooks, Hogan, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back James White all receiving between 53 and 58 targets.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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