The last few days have been busy ones for the New England Patriots. Not only is the team in the middle of its second week of training camp, it also has made multiple personnel moves – two of which involving wide receivers: the team moved on from offseason acquisition Jordan Matthews after he suffered a severe hamstring injury, and also brought in veteran Eric Decker on a one-year contract.
With Decker now on board, let’s reset New England’s wide receivers to find out what offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and quarterback Tom Brady currently have at their disposal.
Chris Hogan, Matthew Slater, Julian Edelman*
Julian Edelman is suspended for the first four weeks of the season, but he is a lock to be back in the lineup in week five and join Chris Hogan as one of the top options at the wide receiver position. Hogan, meanwhile, is solidifying himself as the Patriots’ number one wideout with a very good training camp. A member of Tom Brady’s circle of trust, the veteran is projected to see plenty of playing time this season.
There is a third wide receiver on the Patriots’ roster that is a lock on the team: Matthew Slater, he of one career reception, will again serve as a special teams captain and have virtually no impact in the passing game. Hogan and Edelman, on the other hand, are the current one-two at the position.
Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson
Both Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson have been among the training camp standouts so far, and both appear to have very good chances of making the team. While Dorsett has seen more time in the slot compared to last season and could be a candidate to fill Edelman’s shoes the first four weeks, Patterson has stood out because of his athleticism: a former first-round draft pick like Dorsett, the 27-year old has made multiple highlight-reel catches and appears to fit well into the Patriots’ offense.
Dealing with injury
Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell
New England reportedly has big plans for Kenny Britt, but the 29-year old has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since last week. The injury is not believed to be major, though, and he could be back on the field soon to fight for a spot on the team. Malcolm Mitchell, on the other hand, is more of a question mark: he recently underwent a procedure on his ailing knee but has been working out with the rest of the players on PUP.
Fighting for the 53
Eric Decker, Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron, Devin Lucien, Paul Turner
The bottom of the depth chart consists of the team’s youngest wide receivers and most recent signings. Eric Decker is the player that stands out given his experience in the NFL: a potential number two/three wide receiver in the team’s offense, he will start practicing as early as today. Decker will have to adapt to life in New England quickly, though, to have a realistic shot at making the roster as a potential challenger for Britt and Mitchell.
While Devin Lucien and Paul Turner have been relatively quiet so far, Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron are dark-horse candidates to make the squad: both have seen extensive time as punt returners, and also as part-time slot receivers on offense. One of them could therefore help fill the void created by Edelman’s four-game suspension.