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Positional flexibility the reason behind Patriots wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s recent surge in playing time

Related: Patriots vs. Ravens snap counts: Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Jabrill Peppers see increased action in Week 3

Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With Jakobi Meyers out due to a knee injury, the New England Patriots wide receiver group had to make some adjustments for its Week 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens. DeVante Parker took the No. 1 spot and responded with a 156-yard performance over his 64 snaps.

The WR2 role in terms of playing time, meanwhile, went to Lil’Jordan Humphrey. The former former practice squad wideout ended up playing 54 of 66 offensive snaps — out-snapping both Nelson Agholor (50) and Kendrick Bourne (18).

How come? According to head coach Bill Belichick it had a lot to do with the plays called by the Patriots and the personnel groupings used against Baltimore’s defense.

“Really, it’s a decision on the type of formations, the type of plays that you’re running, they’re running,” Belichick told WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show about Humphrey’s surprisingly high snap count. “It was a lot of loaded, heavy boxes from the Ravens. That involves some things in the running game. He’s kind of a cross between 12 personnel and 11 personnel, so it gives us a little bit of both when he’s on the field.”

Humphrey’s positional flexibility allowed him to see more snaps than all but one wide receiver, and also more than high-prized tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. When on the field, the Patriots did opt to use him in a dual role.

The 24-year-old, who arrived as a free agent in mid-June, served as a receiving option on 31 of his snaps and as a run-blocker on the other 23. Like Belichick said, he served as a natural link between 12 personnel and 11 personnel groups featuring two and three wide receivers and two and one tight ends, respectively.

Despite his increased opportunities, however, Humphrey did not end up catching the football. He was targeted once on an apparent miscommunication with quarterback Mac Jones, resulting in an incomplete pass on 2nd-and-7 in the third quarter.

Nonetheless, Belichick seemed pleased with what he and the rest of the Patriots’ receivers contributed in the 37-26 loss.

“I think all of our wide receivers were productive in the roles that we asked them to be in,” he said. “It’s really the bad plays we have to eliminate.”