With about two weeks to go until the regular season kickoff for the Patriots, there are still some areas to watch this preseason. Given the recent news of Josh Gordon being able to conditionally return to the Patriots, one area of interest is the wide receiving depth chart. It’s obvious Julian Edelman will be the starting top option for Tom Brady. Going into the 3rd preseason game against Carolina, New England has 13 receivers on their roster including Gordon who has been suspended multiple times. The question remains, who else on the receiving core will be on the 53-man roster?
With N’Keal Harry being a first-round pick you would have to believe he would be on the roster even with his hurt hamstring, but with him and Dorsett being comparable receivers in how they play their position there’s only room for one which may leave the former Colts receiver on the outside looking in.
Demaryius Thomas is an interesting player to look at. Returning from the PUP list after tearing his achilles with the Houston Texans, Thomas gives the veteran role that Tom Brady looks for, and for the Patriots this is a low risk/high reward situation. Signing a 1 year/$6 million contract, Thomas could be a threat for opposing defenses especially at 6-3 225 lbs. Playing with a hall of fame QB is familiar for Thomas who played and won a super bowl with Peyton Manning, and he’s continued the strong receiving play even during his half season in Houston averaging 14 yards per reception. That’s the high reward, the low risk is obvious. Thomas could fall with the rest of the receivers who tried to have their one final run including Torrey Holt, Joey Galloway, Eric Decker and more. Receivers who fought father time, injuries and the vaunted Patriots playbook.
Jakobi Meyers’ path to the NFL is comparable to Julian Edelman. A former college QB at NC State who became a wide receiver has become a preseason darling with 12 receptions and 151 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns against Detroit. The 22-year old former Wolfpack receiving threat set records for receptions in a season (92) totaling 1,047 yards and finished his collegiate career with 168 receptions good enough for 5th in school history. Before training camp, Meyers earned a degree in sports management with a minor in business administration while setting records on the field. I’m very interested to see what Meyers and Harry could do on the field not just this season but in future years.
Other receivers like Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris and Cameron Meredith may be playing for one spot on the roster. There may be some loopholes however when you consider Josh Gordon’s spot on the roster. Unfortunately, history tells you to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. The Patriots do have the “luxury” of moving players to different parts of the team. Cameron Meredith continues to recover after undergoing a minor knee operation during the offseason. In another case of low risk/high reward, Meredith signed a 2-year deal worth $2 million meaning the Patriots could cut him but with Josh Gordon’s playing time ranging from 0-16 games in the regular season it would be wise for the Patriots to hold onto the former Saints receiver. The Injured Reserve list seems to be the most likely spot for Meredith who would be ineligible to play for the first eight weeks of the season, but if called upon in the middle of the season COULD be a secret weapon for the Pats.
Berrios, Harris and a couple of the tight ends including Ryan Izzo and Matt Lacasse seem to be destined for the Practice squad. As we prepare for the September 8th season opener between New England and Pittsburgh, Tom Brady has a lot of options for targets. The only question is who wants to rise up and catch passes from the G.O.A.T.?
- John Luck (@jluck_89)