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In second game with Patriots, Phillip Dorsett posts second-most receiving yards of NFL career

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Ex-Colt Phillip Dorsett secured three passes for 68 yards on Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

On the same day Jacoby Brissett made his first start as an Indianapolis Colt, the wide receiver he was traded for caught his first pass as a New England Patriot.

Phillip Dorsett finished having caught three in New England’s 36-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. He finished early due to a knee injury, but prior to his fourth-quarter exit, the 2015 first-round pick looked like a player who was well-adjusted, especially considering he wasn’t on the team until Sept. 2.

A good sign on an afternoon where only three wideouts dressed for the Patriots.

As Brissett rushed for 22 yards and went 20-of-37 passing for 216 yards with an overtime interception for Indianapolis, Dorsett took an end-around for seven yards and accounted for 68 through the air for New England.

A total of 38 of Dorsett’s receiving yards came on a diving deep corner route on first-and-10 with 11:48 remaining, as he released inside and shed the bump-and-run coverage from the slot, looking back Tom Brady’s direction to come down with a 50-50 ball over the shoulder.

It was without safety help to the outside. It was a play tailored to Dorsett’s strengths.

A 5-foot-10, 185-pound target with 4.33 speed, that type of track meet had been seen at Miami and in flashes with the Colts. The 24-year-old had broken free for receptions of 64 and 51 yards, as well as a pair of 50-yarders, during his two seasons in Indianapolis. But he’d logged just seven games with three or more catches. The throws were often of the low-percentage nature, and 51 percent altogether, by the time Dorsett took his last flight out.

That wasn’t the case at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. After being thrown to just once over the course of 18 snaps in New England’s Thursday night opener versus the Kansas City Chiefs, no incompletions took place in Dorsett’s vicinity Sunday versus the Saints.

Dorsett instead posted the second-most receiving yards of his NFL career, behind only the 94-yard showcase against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 11, 2016. And, other than his snag on the corner pattern, No. 13 came up with 23 yards as he waited for Brady on an out-and-up with 1:51 left in the first quarter, and added seven yards more on an outlet screen from the backfield with 10:15 to go in the fourth.

It was a ways from Sept. 4, when the Patriots quarterback’s response to a question regarding Dorsett was, “Yeah, I mean, I just met him yesterday. I don't know much about him, so we'll see. I think he's a young player and he's trying to learn our system, but he's just coming in, trying to work hard and figure out what to do.”

Or, on Tuesday, when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters on a conference call, “He works hard, practiced hard and he was ready to go when he went in the other night. We'll try to do the same thing with our group that's active this week.”

Dorsett appears to be going.

In the bigger picture, his contributions over 32 snaps will tend to get overlapped in the Patriots’ multilayered win. Brady accrued the third-highest yardage output – 447 – of his 18-year tenure while notching three touchdowns in the first quarter for the first time and 300 yards in the first half for the second time. Rob Gronkowski, who left with a groin injury, was on the other end of 116 of those yards and one of those scores. James White and Chris Hogan, who was hobbled as well, gathered 85 and 78 yards, respectively. And Rex Burkhead, after retrieving three passes for 41 yards and a TD, departed with a rib injury.

But it was a fine starting point for Dorsett. Even if it arrived against a New Orleans defense that has conceded 57 completions for 793 yards and six touchdowns through the first two games of the season, it was a clean slate.

And he didn’t only clear out coverage during it.