One of the biggest changes from the New England Patriots in Week 1 to Week 2 was their personnel usage. Squaring off against Miami in the season opener, New England ran over 50 percent of their offensive plays in 12 personnel. Against Pittsburgh last Sunday, 12 personnel was put on the back burner, as the Patriots trotted out 11 personnel on 97 percent of their offensive snaps.
The shift towards more three-wide receiver packages resulted in more snaps for wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey. After playing just three offensive snaps as a practice squad elevation in Week 1, Humphrey saw the field for 26 total snaps in Pittsburgh.
His usage throughout those 26 snaps was interesting, as Humphrey was on the field for 21 run plays compared to just five pass plays. After a rough opening game from tight end Hunter Henry in the run game, New England leaned on the 6-foot-4 receiver instead.
The results paid off, as Humphrey was the team’s highest graded run blocker on Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus, throwing some key blocks on the Patriots game-clinching drive in the process.
“No doubt, Bill Belichick said when asked on Wednesday if he thought Humphrey made a positive impact in the ground game. “I think some of the toughness that we were talking about.”
.@LJ_Humphrey23 making plays in the run game. Was the #Patriots highest graded run blocker on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/E3Ioloj5Br— Brian Hines (@iambrianhines) September 20, 2022
While most of his work came in the run game, Humphrey made an impact in his few pass reps. On that final drive, he secured a reception to put the Patriots offense back on schedule with just over five minutes remaining. Mac Jones was able to pick up a first down on the next play and the Patriots never gave the ball back to the Steelers.
“Made a big catch there on that second-and-long,” Belichick explained. “That got us into a third-and-short there in the last drive where Mac ended up scrambling.”
Humphrey stuck around on the Patriots practice squad after shinning throughout the preseason. As Belichick noted, his receiving ability in the middle of the field and willingness as a blocker stood out, among making some “big plays” on special teams.
After being elevated off the practice squad in Week 1, Humphrey was then signed to the active roster. The 24-year old will look to continue to build off his impressive Week 2 performance moving forward.
“He’s an interesting guy. Doesn’t really fit a mold for a certain position. But he’s a good football player. So glad we have him,” Belichick said.