FOXBORO, Mass. — Things didn’t go as planned this offseason for the New England Patriots’ wide receiver corps.
The Patriots looked to have an embarrassment of riches at receiver as far back as June, when they had Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron and Matthew Slater. At the time, it was difficult to pick just six of those receivers to make the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster in projections.
Then Edelman got suspended, Britt and Matthews never overcame hamstring injuries, Mitchell’s knee never healed and Berrios hit injured reserve. The Patriots also experimented with Eric Decker, but he retired after an unsuccessful bid for a roster spot.
The Patriots now are left with Hogan, Dorsett, Patterson, McCarron, Chad Hansen and Slater until Edelman returns. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is saying all the right things, two days before the Patriots’ season opener against the Houston Texans, about the group publically.
“I have confidence in them certainly,” Brady said. “You know, Phillip and Chris have obviously played a lot. I’ve played a lot with them last year. And Cordarrelle’s new and he’s done some good things — obviously, it’s the reason why he’s here. He’s a really good player and he’s been productive in the league.
“To be on this team, you’ve got to be a good football player and, you know, the guys that are out there, I have certainly a lot of confidence in. Hopefully — again, we’re all going to be learning on the fly and you’ve got to build as the season goes. We’re in a certain place now, but this is not where we want to be as we get through the season. Every week we want to build on things and there’s no way to replicate what we’re about to go up against and that’s why you got to through it. So we’ll see where we’re at.”
It helps that the Patriots have tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister and Dwayne Allen and running backs Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel and Jeremy Hill to help carry the load on offense. In a vacuum, the Patriots’ wide receiver corps is weak. But overall, the Patriots’ offensive weapons are nothing to scoff at.
It’s notable Brady didn’t mention McCarron and Hansen while discussing the Patriots’ wide receivers. That seems to hint that they won’t play a large role while Edelman is out.
“It’s a tough system to play in for a receiver,” Brady said “I definitely don’t think it’s easy, and I know that because we’ve had a lot come from a lot of different places and a lot of memorization, lot of being on the same page with the quarterback and changing routes at the line of scrimmage, changing routes during the middle of play and you got to be on the same page. So, we try to morph the offense to what we all do a good job at and those things change over the course of the season with different guys that come in and out. So, hopefully, we can do a good job of that this week.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images