Antonio Brown is one of the greatest wide receivers of his generation, but he won’t immediately become the focal point of the New England Patriots’ offense.
Speaking on a conference call one day after Brown officially signed with New England, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said getting Brown involved early won’t be a priority for the Patriots.
“We?ll see how it goes as it goes forward, but certainly, we?ve always had the same concept in terms of our run game/pass game and our offense in general,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “We?re going to try to throw it where we?re supposed to throw it, and we don?t try to force the ball anywhere or to anybody, because that?s not necessarily the way we do it.”
Brown joins Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski in one of the most talented receiving corps the Patriots ever have fielded.
Dorsett, who likely will be the No. 5 option when all wideouts are healthy, had 95 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s season-opening rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meyers looked like a potential breakout star in the preseason, and he might not even crack the 46-man gameday roster moving forward.
The Patriots also boast three talented running backs in Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead, two of whom (White and Burkhead) are accomplished pass-catchers.
Brown, who bristled when former Steelers teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster began overshadowing him last season, will need to accept his status as one of many weapons in New England’s offense.
“We have a lot of good football players on our team,” McDaniels said, “and a lot of guys that do have roles that they can perform well. We?ve got to put our guys in good positions to be successful, hopefully, with a really good week of practice.”
The Patriots brought Gordon along slowly when he joined the team via trade early last season, having him sit out his first game and playing him for 18 snaps in each of the next two before finally letting him loose in their Week 6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
It remains to be seen how New England will handle Brown, who caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and a league-high 15 touchdowns in 15 games last season. The 31-year-old could make his Patriots debut this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.