The New England Patriots will not have WR Danny Amendola (ankle) for the season finale against the Miami Dolphins, while rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is doubtful to play.
Enter former Cardinals WR Michael Floyd.
The Patriots claimed Floyd off waivers when the receivers was released after he was arrested for driving under the influence. Floyd saw his first serious snaps in week 16 against the New York Jets, recording one reception for 6 yards.
“He’s worked really hard to try to get up to speed,” QB Tom Brady said about Floyd. “There’s a lot to make up, there’s a lot of time to try to make up, but he’s worked pretty hard at it. It’s been good to see his commitment and hopefully he can go out there and play confident, and like all of us, try to go get a win.”
Amendola is the top slot receiver on the team, but his absence has allowed the Patriots to use Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman in the slot, with Mitchell on the outside. With Mitchell unavailable, Floyd will be the top outside option in three-receiver sets.
Brady says he doesn’t “want to make predictions” for Floyd’s contributions in the season finale “because I think that sets the wrong expectations for a player,” but Floyd will clearly have the opportunities if he is able to capitalize.
Floyd mentioned that rookie QB Jacoby Brissett is spending extra time to help the receiver adjust to the new offense, and head coach Bill Belichick is happy about the combination.
“I think in this particular case [working together] helps both players,” Belichick said. “I think when you have to explain what you’re doing to somebody else it helps you understand it better in Jacoby’s case.”
“In this case we happen to be in a situation where that has I think, again, there’s a lot of benefit all the way around,” Belichick added. “I think it’s been good. It’s helped Floyd and it’s definitely helped Brissett and it’s helped [receivers coach Chad O’Shea] and [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] too.”
Floyd’s role comes with a lot of targets and he has to be on the same page as Brady. While Edelman leads the team with 58 targets over the past five games- since TE Rob Gronkowski was injured- which is twice as many as second ranked RB James Whites (29), Mitchell is a close third with 28 targets.
While we can assume that Hogan and TE Martellus Bennett will absorb some of Mitchell’s targets, Floyd will have to step up as the 5th option in the offense when he takes the field.