The New England Patriots offense as a whole has had its ups and downs all summer, but the arrow has repeatedly pointed in the right direction for one of its members. Wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey has been one of the surprise standouts of training camp and preseason, and has played himself into the roster conversation as a result.
Through two exhibition contests, Humphrey has caught a team-high 11 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. That production has to be taken with a grain of salt — we are talking about preseason and he spent most of the summer with the second- and third-stringers — but make no mistake: the wideout has made the most of his opportunities both on the offensive side of the ball and in the kicking game.
Humphrey himself would agree with that assessment, but as he pointed out he still has ways to go after arriving in New England just two months ago.
“I’m on my way, I’m not there yet. Still have a lot of work to do,” he said after the Patriots’ first practice in Las Vegas on Monday. “I feel like I’ve made the most of the opportunities that I got and I just need to be more consistent with that and continue to grow.”
A former rookie free agent who arrived in the NFL in 2019, Humphrey spent the first three seasons of his career with the New Orleans Saints. Bouncing between the club’s practice squad and active roster he had a limited impact: while he did appear in 20 regular season and playoff games, he has only 17 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns on his career résumé.
As a result of his mediocre production, the Saints opted not to keep him as a restricted free agent earlier this year. He spent three months on the open market, eventually joining the Patriots on a one-year deal in June.
Since then, he has made some encouraging process despite being part of a deep position group. His preseason performance in particular has caught the eye, not just because of his production as a receiver: Humphrey has also shown up on special teams.
“It’s really important just to show I’m valuable, I’m a valuable player — I can do anything,” he said about his kicking game role. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be at receiver. I can make plays on special teams if that’s what you need me to do.”
Humphrey’s value might extend even further than the wide receiver position and his role as a gunner on punt coverage. As head coach Bill Belichick mentioned, he has some tight end qualities due to his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame.
It seems the Patriots are indeed willing to explore those, occasionally having Humphrey align in-line this summer. For him that is all just part of the deal to help the team in whichever capacity he can.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll just do it,” Humphrey said. “I’ve got some work during camp at it and I’m just trying to get better at it and continue to grow.”