Patriots

Finally moved in, Phillip Dorsett still waiting for production to arrive

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Finally moved in, Phillip Dorsett still waiting for production to arrive

FOXBORO — It took a while for Phillip Dorsett to get acclimated to New England. 

“My stuff literally just got here probably like two weeks ago,” the former Colt said after Tuesday’s practice. “I stayed in a hotel for about almost two months, so it’s been ... not rough -- I [got] used to it -- but I’m all settled in now.”

While Dorsett finally has his belongings, he and the Patriots are still waiting for his production to arrive. Since being acquired from the Colts in a deal for Jacoby Brissett, the speedster out of Miami has only recorded catches in two games. On the season, he’s totaled just four receptions.

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Bill Belichick sang Dorsett’s praises Tuesday morning, saying the third-year pro has gotten better each week, a claim that would seem to disagree with what’s been static non-production. 

Then again, Dorsett wouldn’t be the first receiver to join the Patriots and take a while to fit in. Jabar Gaffney had a pedestrian first regular season with the Pats but made an impact in the playoffs. The question is whether Dorsett experiences a fate closer to Gaffney’s or, say, Doug Gabriel, who joined the Pats via trade, kind of stunk and was out of the league before long. 

Of course, even Gabriel had 25 catches over 12 games. Dorsett is seemingly still trying to show Tom Brady and the coaching staff that he’s worth targeting. 

“They’ve asked me to do a lot of things, and when you get it you’ve just got to go home, you’ve got to work at it. It’s repetition,” Dorsett said when asked about learning a new system. 

Added Dorsett: “There’s a lot thrown at you, a lot of different formations, a lot of movement … I’m used to it. I played in a pro system in college and I guess that’s what’s helped me, and I played in a pro system when I got to the NFL.” 

The ceiling for Dorsett is obviously high. That he was traded at all turned heads given that he was selected in the first round of the 2015 draft and had shown improvement from his first year to his second season. Plus, his 4.33 speed alone would make him an intriguing addition for any team. 

He just hasn’t put it all together yet. He’s young (24) and he plays for a contending team that doesn’t just hand out snaps. With Chris Hogan’s shoulder potentially providing another blow to the Patriots’ receiver group, maybe more opportunity could be on the way. He and the Pats can only hope there’s more production if it comes to that. 

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Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

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Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

The first came in the second quarter, when Brandin Cooks turned on afterburners to beat a Raiders double team and glide underneath a Tom Brady heave for 52 yards. The second came in the third quarter, on the third play from scrimmage of the second half, when Cooks faked an out-route, jetted past rookie corner Obi Melifonwu, and sped into the end zone to make the score 24-0. 

Both deep completions in New England's 33-8 win over Oakland just added to cumulative effect that Cooks has had on the Patriots offense since arriving before the season to become their top deep threat. 

Paired with Brady, Cooks has actually become the most productive deep threat in the NFL. 

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According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks leads all receivers with 431 yards on deep passes (throws that travel 20 yards or more down the field). In second place is Houston's DeAndre Hopkins with 313 yards. 

And Brady, who has long been more effective in the short-to-intermediate range than he has been deep, is now among the league leaders in creating explosive plays from the quarterback position. The Patriots are third in the NFL with 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and they are tied for second with nine plays of 40 yards or more. 

"You're always trying to work on that," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show of his team's deep passing game. "It's not one particular year [you work on it]. I think that's been a concerted effort by our entire offense, trying to make more explosive plays in the pass game. 

"Sometimes your offense is built differently. We actually have some guys now that can really get down the field so that becomes more of a point of emphasis. The way Brandin runs, the way that Chris Hogan runs, the way that Phillip Dorsett runs, they're very fast. You need to be able to take advantage of their skill set . . . 

"When we had David Patten we were throwing it deep. I mean, but David Patten didn't run a lot of short routes. I would say Brandin Cooks, in general, he doesn't run a lot of short routes. Everyone has a different role. If we can get by you, I think that's a good place to throw the ball. if we can't, we gotta figure out ways to throw it underneath and different weeks are going to call for different things based on the strengths of the defenses we're playing, too."

A week before beating the Raiders, against the Broncos and their talented corners, the Patriots had less luck pushing the ball down the field -- though they tried to hit Cooks deep multiple times. In Mexico City, Cooks matched up with a weaker secondary, and he wasn't at all slowed by the altitude, catching six passes in all for 149 yards and a score. 

Per PFF, Cooks has seen almost one third of his targets (30 percent) come on deep passes, which is the ninth-highest rate in the league. He's caught all 11 of his catchable deep passes, three of them accounting for scores.

"Obviously when you're throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field," Brady said, "your chances of completion go down, but if you hit it, it ends up being a very explosive plays and you can change a lot of field position and get a defense really on their heels if they have to defend every blade of grass on the field." 

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

Terry Glenn, the Patriots' top draft pick in 1996, died early Monday morning in a one-car accident in Irving, Texas. He was 43. 

Bill Belichick coached Glenn as an assistant with the Patriots during Glenn's rookie season. He was later Glenn's head coach in 2000 and 2001. Belichick traded Glenn to the Packers before the 2002 season after a tumultuous run in New England that involved legal trouble, injuries and clashes with the coaching staff.

During a conference call with reporters soon after the news of Glenn's death was published, Belichick remembered Glenn for his natural physical ability and "a good heart."

"I was pretty close with Terry," Belichick said, "and his rookie season was my first year here in '96, and so I had a lot of interaction with him and other people that were involved in his life and his upbringing separate from the Patriots. Terry's a very smart individual. Had a lot of, obviously, a lot of physical skill and talent. Could do a lot of things on the football field very naturally. And I think he was deep down inside a good person with good intentions and, you know, a good heart. Obviously it's very unfortunate. Very unfortunate passing. I mean, it's a sad day. Sad news."

According to reports, Glenn was with his fiancee at the time of the accident. She's being treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.