Well, somebody is going to be throwing the football for the New England Patriots on Week 1.
Whether it’s Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo, we’ll find out in court.
But regardless of who is throwing it, it’s on Patriots wide receivers to make the best of the situation and continue to do what the Patriots have been doing better than most teams over the last decade: score points.
Patriots wide receivers accounted for just 13 of the team’s 34 receiving touchdowns last regular season, as Rob Gronkowski almost matched that number himself (12).
Those 13 touchdowns include just one from Danny Amendola, a player that appeared to be somewhat of an afterthought through most of the regular season, but really came up huge in the postseason.
Amendola restructured his contract over the offseason to stay with the team, something that appeared to be an unlikely scenario months prior.
With an assumed increased role in the offense for Amendola, the Patriots should improve upon their totals at the wide receiver spot.
Let’s take a look at Amendola and the rest of the wide receiver corps in camp.
The automatics – Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Matthew Slater
With the changeover that’s gone on at the cornerback position, drills such as 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 are going to feel like a breeze for these wide receivers compared to last year. All of New England’s top guys are back.
Julian Edelman returns as Brady’s (Garoppolo’s?) favorite target after a season in which he grabbed a team-high 92 balls for 972 yards and four touchdowns. Also returning is Brandon LaFell, who is fresh off his first season as a Patriot in which he caught 74 passes for 953 yards and seven touchdowns, seeing his role in the offense increase as the season went along.
Slater gets grouped in with the wide receivers, but he makes the team due to his being one of the best special teamers in the NFL.
On the bubble – Aaron Dobson, Brian Tyms, Brandon Gibson, Josh Boyce
There are a couple spots open for these players. Is this finally the year Aaron Dobson does something . . . anything? Dobson stands at 6-for-3, 205 pounds and is considered an outside threat. But that’s only the case if he’s on the field. He’s been ineffective or hurt the first two years of his career, so this could be a make or break camp for the third-year receiver.
Brian Tyms had a very limited role in the offense last season, but went ahead of Dobson and has a similar build. It could be either him or Dobson for one spot.
Brandon Gibson was signed to a one-year deal by the Pats in the offseason. The sixth-year veteran could be a nice addition at a very low cost, and also keep Josh Boyce off the 53-man roster.
Practice Squad potential – Zach D’Orazio, Chris Harper, Jonathan Krause