FOXBORO, Mass. — Adjusting to new surroundings after a trade can be difficult for professional athletes, especially ones who are dealt just before or during a season. And learning a new playbook is only part of the challenge.
Just ask Phillip Dorsett.
Dorsett was traded to the New England Patriots on Sept. 2 — five days before New England’s regular-season opener — but most of belongings didn’t arrive in Massachusetts until almost two full months later. The 24-year-old wide receiver spent the first eight or so weeks of the season living out of a few suitcases in a hotel, waiting for the rest of his things to arrive from his previous home in Indianapolis.
“That was probably the second-worst part when it comes to just moving,” Dorsett said after Tuesday’s Patriots practice. “My stuff just got here probably, like, two weeks ago. I stayed in a hotel for about almost two months. So it’s been — it’s not rough; I’m used to it now. But I’m all settled in now, so I’m great.”
One of the worst parts of hotel life? The laundry.
“It was a lot of washing clothes,” said Dorsett, who spent the previous two seasons with the Colts after being drafted 29th overall in 2015. “A lot of asking for quarters to use the hotel washing machine. But yeah, I’m all settled now.”
Dorsett is feeling more comfortable on the field, too. He’s put in extra work with wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and dedicated himself to learning the Patriots’ notoriously complex offense and gaining the trust of quarterback Tom Brady. Head coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday the young wideout has “gotten better every week.”
“Just doing everything I can on and off the field,” Dorsett said. “Just learning — learning the playbook. Cutting down the mental errors. Obviously, it’s going to be difficult, because it’s a difficult system, but they know I’m well-aware and capable of being able to come in and pick it up. They ask me to do a lot of things, and when you get it, you’ve just got to go home and work at it with repetition. I’m a smart enough guy to be able to get it.”
So far, that work hasn’t translated into on-field production. As the Patriots’ No. 4 receiver, Dorsett has been targeted just eight times through eight games and has four catches for 85 yards. He could see his role grow this Sunday night, however, as wide receiver Chris Hogan is expected to miss New England’s matchup with the Denver Broncos with a shoulder injury.
The last time a Patriots receiver missed a game (Danny Amendola in Week 2), Dorsett had three catches on three targets for 68 yards, plus his only carry of the season, which went for 7 yards.
“As a football player, you’ve got to stay ready all the time, because it’s a violent sport, and things happen,” he said. “(Hogan’s injury) doesn’t really change my approach much, because every game I go out there, I know I might have to play today. So I’m ready. I’ve prepared myself, and I’m just doing everything I can.”
Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images