FOXBORO, Mass. — Phillip Dorsett just can’t catch a break.
Every time the Patriots wide receiver flashes his first-round potential, New England brings in another receiving threat who will impede him from maintaining a top role in the offense.
Dorsett started hot last season, catching 12 passes for 110 yards with a touchdown in the Patriots’ first two games. New England proceeded to trade for Josh Gordon. After a quiet training camp this summer, Dorsett caught seven passes on seven targets for 47 yards in the Patriots’ third preseason game. Shortly thereafter, Gordon and Demaryius Thomas were activated.
And on Sunday night in New England’s 33-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dorsett caught four passes on four targets for 95 yards with two touchdowns in the greatest game of his five-year career — on the heels of the Patriots signing Antonio Brown.
“At the end of the day, this is a team,” Dorsett said. “We know he’s coming in. We have great camaraderie in the room, and we look forward to adding him to it. We know what he is. We know he’s a hard worker. And we know what we’re going to get. So, we just have to get him up to speed, and I feel like it could be great for us.”
But it has to be somewhat demoralizing for Dorsett, right? He’s like the knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” who keeps getting his limbs cut off but wants to get up to fight.
“I can’t really focus on that,” Dorsett said. “I focus on my job, and that’s going out there and just getting better every day. I feel like it’s paying off. I can’t worry about things I can’t control. So, I just come out here every day and work, and I work and I work and I grind. That’s all I worry about.”
Dorsett really is the perfect reserve receiver for the Patriots. He’ll never complain, and he’ll keep working, and when he receives his opportunities, he’ll make the most of them and deliver big plays.
“Phil’s done a good job for us, been out there every day,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Sunday. “He’s a tough kid that’s been very dependable. Smart, plays all the positions and has come through for us in a lot of big games.”
That’s exactly what happened Sunday night when he actually resembled Brown at times. Dorsett will lose his starting role to Brown. But with the uncertainty atop the Patriots’ wide receiver corps with Brown, Gordon, Julian Edelman and Thomas, don’t be surprised if Dorsett earns another chance to step in and shine this season. Then when he has to take the backseat, he’ll say and do all the right things all over again and keep fighting his way back up the depth chart.