The New England Patriots’ stable of pass-catchers will look a bit different when they visit the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Let’s take a closer look at a few newcomers who could make their New England debuts in Week 11:
TE Jordan Thomas
Finally, some help for Ryan Izzo.
Claimed off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 9, Thomas will bring some much-needed depth to New England’s banged-up tight end group. He’s big (6-foot-5, 277 pounds), moves well for his size, has an impressive catch radius and could be a threat in the red zone. That would be a welcomed development, as Patriots tight ends have caught just two touchdown passes in the post-Rob Gronkowski era (and none this season).
A former Texans draft pick, Thomas has just two catches since the start of last season but put up promising numbers as a rookie in 2018, catching 20 passes on 27 targets for 215 yards and four touchdowns for Houston.
Izzo was the Patriots’ only active tight end in each of their last three games. The third-year pro certainly has been durable this season, but he’s made only minor contributions in the passing game, ranking 50th among tight ends in receptions (10) and 42nd in receiving yards (134) through nine games.
WR Isaiah Ford
Ford dressed for last Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens but did not play. Assuming he receives some offensive opportunities this week, it’ll be interesting to see how the trade-deadline acquisition fits into a Patriots receiving corps that’s been carried by Jakobi Meyers of late.
At 6-2, 194 pounds with the ability to play both in the slot and outside, Ford is a similar player to Meyers. He’s been praised for his intelligence and got an early introduction to the Patriots’ offense while playing under former New England receivers coach Chad O’Shea in Miami.
Quarterback Cam Newton has leaned heavily on Meyers of late, targeting the second-year wideout on 40.2 percent of his pass attempts over the last four games (37 of 92). Fellow receiver Damiere Byrd ranks second during that span with a 16.3 percent target share (15 targets). Neither Byrd nor N’Keal Harry was targeted against Baltimore.
The Patriots’ other deadline-day addition also could debut this week. Adam Butler’s shoulder injury opens a spot for defensive tackle Isaiah Mack, who was a healthy scratch against the Ravens after being claimed off waivers from the Tennessee Titans.
WR Donte Moncrief
Patriots fans likely remember Moncrief from his time with the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars. The 27-year-old joined New England’s practice squad earlier this month and was temporarily elevated to this week’s gameday roster.
This elevation could be related to Harry’s status. A late addition to the Patriots’ injury report, Harr (shoulder) is listed as questionable for Sunday, though he did make the trip to Houston. The 2019 first-round pick recently missed three games with a concussion before returning to action last week.
Moncrief (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) posted a solid 48-668-3 line in 2018, but he fell off a cliff last season and was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after five underwhelming appearances. He hasn’t played in a game since last December and hasn’t caught a pass since last October.