FOXBORO, Mass. — Phillip Dorsett’s postgame attire Sunday provided a preview of what’s soon to come for the New England Patriots.
Before speaking with reporters after New England’s 38-7 beatdown of the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, Dorsett pulled on a black T-shirt with “JE11” emblazoned on the front in bold white lettering.
Though likely unintentional, the wideout’s fashion choice provided an important reminder for Patriots fans: This team is about to get its best receiver back.
Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension for his violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy officially expires at midnight Sunday, meaning Edelman will be eligible to make his season debut in Thursday night’s matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
And while the Patriots’ offense showed clear improvement in the team’s spanking of the Dolphins, having quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite target back in the fold should make the unit exponentially more dangerous.
“It will be great to have him,” Brady said after the game. “I mean, we haven?t seen him in four weeks, but I know he?ll be ready. And it?s a short week, so I?m sure he?ll be in here ready to go. Everyone loves Jules and loves having him back.”
Though it seems hard to imagine, Edelman has not played in a non-preseason game for the Patriots since Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. He tore his ACL three games into New England’s exhibition slate last summer, sidelining him for all of last season.
Some other notes from Sunday:
— Though running backs Sony Michel and James White (more on him below) were the Patriots’ primary offensive threats Sunday, their receiving corps rebounded nicely after being largely neutralized in losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions.
Dorsett, who was shut out on five targets against the Lions, caught four passes on seven targets for 55 yards and a touchdown against Miami. Cordarrelle Patterson added a 55-yard score of his own, and newcomer Josh Gordon impressed in a limited role, finishing with two catches on two targets for 32 yards.
Only Chris Hogan failed to make a significant impact, catching one pass on one target for 25 yards. Most predicted Hogan would be the Patriots’ leading receiver with Edelman sidelined, but he’s averaging just two catches per game.
— Dorsett said he didn’t plan the acrobatic somersault that followed his 14-yard touchdown catch.
“I just tried to secure the ball,” he said. “My body just reacted.”
The touchdown came against Dolphins top cornerback Xavien Howard, who endured a brutal day in coverage.
Howard, who shut down Brandin Cooks and picked off Brady twice in these teams’ second meeting last season, allowed four catches on four targets for 87 yards and three touchdowns, and also committed two drive-extending penalties.
?We called the play, and I knew we were going to get 1-on-1 backside,” Dorsett said. “And it was a route I?m very familiar with — a route that I like to run. I kind of knew it was coming, and once I saw the ball, I just made my best effort to try to catch it.?
— After last week’s loss to Detroit, Brady said White needed to be more involved in the offense. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels obliged Sunday, as White finished with eight carries for 44 yards and a touchdown and a team-high eight catches on 10 targets for 68 yards and another score in the win.
Michel also finished with 112 yards from scrimmage (all rushing) and a touchdown in the best game of his young NFL career. Kenjon Barner added 11 yards on three garbage-time carries, and Patterson picked up 11 more on an end around.
“We have a good group of guys that are very versatile, can catch, block and run the football,” White said. “So, I mean, one week it may be one of us. One week, it may be two of us. You never really know how it?s going to go. We just try and make the most of our opportunities and try to help this offense go.”
— The Patriots scored a total of 31 points against the Jags and Lions. They scored 38 against the Dolphins, including 24 in the first half.
— Tight end Dwayne Allen caught his first pass since Week 16 of last season — and lost 4 yards in the process.
Allen has been used almost exclusively as a blocker during his Patriots tenure — his catch came on his first target of the season — but he could be asked to contribute in the passing game Thursday if Rob Gronkowski (left with an ankle injury in the third quarter) and/or Jacob Hollister (inactive with a chest injury) is unable to go against the Colts.