Patriots 2013 position preview: Wide Receiver/Tight End

Patriots rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins turned plenty of heads this summer.  Credit: Getty Images
Patriots rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins turned plenty of heads this summer. Credit: Getty Images

Wes Welker is doing his thing with the Broncos. Aaron Hernandez is doing time in jail. Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch are waiting for their phones to ring.

The Patriots receiving corps is much different – and somewhat of a question mark – going into the 2013 season.

First, the best news: Rob Gronkowski wasn’t placed on the physically unable to perform list, which would have kept him out for at least the first six games of the season. After four surgeries on his arm and one surgery on his back, he’s now practicing in pads with the team.

It’s doubtful Gronkowski suits up for the Pats Week 1 against the Bills (1 p.m., CBS), but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him back on the playing field soon. For now, Bill Belichick calls his situation “day-to-day,” as Gronk takes the steps necessary for a return.

Aside from the team’s big free agent acquisition in slot receiver Danny Amendola, the Patriots receivers are largely young and unproven. If Amendola can stay healthy – and that hasn’t been easy for him over the years – he could put up Wes Welker-like numbers, already seeming to have great chemistry with Tom Brady.

Even so, young receivers will have to step up to make up for the aforementioned key losses. Undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, out of Cincinnati, has proven to be capable. Thompkins finished the preseason with 15 receptions for 164 yards, and appeared to be Brady’s favorite target – especially when Amendola was off the field.

He’ll be joined on the roster by fellow rookie wide receivers Josh Boyce, out of Texas Christian, and Aaron Dobson, out of Marshall. Dobson’s 6-foot-3 frame gives him a height advantage over some defensive backs – something Brady can certainly take advantage of.


“They’re all anxious to get started,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said of the rookies. “They’ve got an enthusiasm about them. They’re all three capable of playing in our offense. We’ve already moved them and played multiple roles, multiple positions with them, which in our system is a really big plus for us to have some flexibility with those guys.”

Julian Edelman and Matt Slater return to the team for their fifth and sixth seasons, respectively.

One more undrafted rookie, tight end Zach Sudfeld, stood out on the offensive side of the ball in preseason. He looks to play the role of Hernandez and will see plenty of snaps with or without Gronkowski out there. Michael Hoomanawanui is the third tight end for New England.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Local

Muslim leaders welcome NYPD surveillance changes with degree…

Leaders and advocates praise the NYPD's move to shut down a unit tied to its Muslim surveillance program but say there's more left to do.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

Masahiro Tanaka dominates Cubs over eight shutout innings

Masahiro Tanaka certainly had no-hit caliber stuff Wednesday as he allowed just two bunt singles.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.