Patriots

Door is open for N'Keal Harry to make impact for Patriots after Josh Gordon lands on IR

Door is open for N'Keal Harry to make impact for Patriots after Josh Gordon lands on IR

FOXBORO — The Patriots had a looming glut at their receiver spot, but they cleared it up well before they had to.

According to ESPN's Field Yates, the Patriots have placed Josh Gordon on injured reserve. Gordon was listed as a non-participant on Wednesday's injury report due to knee and ankle issues.

The team has used one of its return-from-IR designations — every team in the league gets two — on N'Keal Harry when they brought the rookie first-rounder back to practice last week. Bill Belichick could, in theory, use the second return-from-IR designation on Gordon, but the expectation is that left tackle Isaiah Wynn will be the second player they bring back from IR.

How does this leave the Patriots depth chart at receiver?

Julian Edelman remains the team's top option. He'll now be joined by Harry, recently-acquired Mohamed Sanu, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski.

Sanu-for-Gordon is not a one-for-one swap, though that's how the timing of the moves makes it seem. Sanu provides depth across the receiving group for position coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, but he is a very different player than Gordon. Both have big frames for the position, but Sanu is primarily a slot receiver while Gordon — who played in the slot occasionally for the Patriots — has made his living on the outside.

Gordon being placed on IR now opens the door for Harry to make an immediate impact. It's a tall order for a player who missed all but one preseason game and most of training camp. (And even in the preseason game he was limited after suffering a leg injury.) But Harry and Gordon have similar physical skill sets and it would come as little surprise if Harry manned the "X" position in the Patriots offense that Gordon held when available.

Harry and Gordon actually had remarkably similar physical measurements before entering the league seven years apart, and Harry's frame and body control should allow him to run the same fade, slant and back-shoulder routes Gordon did.

Asking Harry to do everything Gordon has done is a lot to ask. Especially in a complicated offense with a demanding quarterback who has let it be known many times that veteran players are more likely to contribute than rookies in New England because of the communication it takes to keep things running smoothly.

But Belichick made his choice. He could've — even after using a return-from-IR designation on Harry — opted to keep the rookie on IR and end his season. That would've left Gordon's role open for whenever he got healthy and kept the number of active receivers at a manageable level. Instead, the team will try to bring back the big-bodied bail-out option who's in his first year rather than try to get Gordon going again.

This move is also a vote of confidence for another rookie wideout. Jakobi Meyers was an undrafted player who ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash coming out of NC State, someone who only had a handful of years at the receiver position after going to the Wolfpack as a quarterback. But he impressed in training camp and has slowly worked his way into a more regular role by taking advantage of opportunities provided to him as others at his position have dealt with injury. He's caught 13 of 15 targets sent his way this season for 167 yards, and he's made an impression on his hard-to-impress quarterback.

"He’s done a great job taking advantage of his opportunity," Tom Brady said after Meyers caught all five targets sent his way Monday night. "I’ll keep throwing it to him. He does a good job of getting open. I’ll just keep trying to go to the open guy."

Meyers, McDaniels told reporters recently, is more of an interior option however. That means in Gordon's absence, Harry will likely be looked to to play a real role.

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NFL highlights: Watch Patriots, Tom Brady fool Chiefs on flea-flicker TD

NFL highlights: Watch Patriots, Tom Brady fool Chiefs on flea-flicker TD

The New England Patriots took an early lead over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday with a pretty unconventional scoring drive, but given the struggles of quarterback Tom Brady and his offense in recent weeks, they'll certainly take it.

The Patriots couldn't get anything going on their first drive, but they picked up two first downs on third-down pass interference penalties. After the second penalty, the Patriots went into their bag of tricks with a flea flicker play.

Brady received a lateral from running back James White and found wide receiver Julian Edelman deep down the field for a 37-yard touchdown.

Take a look at the scoring play in the video below:

The Patriots came into Sunday's Week 14 matchup having scored an average of just 18 points over their last four games. Going right down the field and scoring a touchdown on the opening possession -- even with the aid of two penalties -- is exactly what the defending champions needed against a Chiefs team that scores the third-most points per game.

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These stats should inspire confidence in the Patriots before their game vs. Chiefs

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These stats should inspire confidence in the Patriots before their game vs. Chiefs

The New England Patriots don't lose at home very often. Don't believe me? Just take a look at couple of remarkable stats.

According to CLNS Media's Evan Lazar, the Patriots are undefeated at home with both Julian Edelman and Tom Brady in the lineup.

Additionally, the Patriots hold a remarkable record against sub-25-year-old quarterbacks at home for the better part of the past two decades.

Here's a look at the exact numbers, per Lazar.

Safe to say, these stats would seemingly indicate that the Patriots should be favored to beat the Chiefs. And they point to the massive homefield advantage that the Patriots hold playing at Foxboro.

While all trends are meant to be broken, the Chiefs are going to be fighting an uphill battle on Sunday, especially after they left some of their equipment on a flight to Newark and had to scramble to get it to Foxboro ahead of the game.

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