Patriots

Duron Harmon weighs in on Patriots XL wide receiver crew

Duron Harmon weighs in on Patriots XL wide receiver crew

FOXBORO – We’ve blabbed plenty in the past week about the Patriots importing size at the wide receiver position.

What we haven’t gotten is a DB’s point of view on the influx of big guys and what it might afford the Patriots offense.

Duron Harmon gave us that on Thursday.

“They're not just tall, but they're big, strong,” said the Patriots seventh-year safety. “Going against receivers like that, it makes it a lot tougher on you. With their catch radius, they're able to use their body to get open a little bit more.

“You've got to be more physical with them, but you can't get into too (much) of a physical match, because at the end of the day they might end up overpowering you,” he added.

I don’t want to get to the point where it seems like the Patriots have been running nothing but Lilliputians out there for two decades. This is a team that trotted out Rob Gronkowski, Cordarelle Patterson and Josh Gordon for several games last year. But the common denominator to the pass-catchers they’ve brought in is size. And that will be on display during camp.

“You might have to go back and forth with how you're playing them,” said Harmon. “Hopefully they bring some of that mismatch to our offense and do a good job scoring some points.”  

The side benefit of having these varied receivers? The Patriots defenders will get a crash course in dealing with it all summer long.

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Josh Gordon absent from Patriots practice, but Tom Brady could get familiar faces back

Josh Gordon absent from Patriots practice, but Tom Brady could get familiar faces back

FOXBORO — The Patriots could see some shuffling among their offensive weapons on Monday night down in Jersey.

Josh Gordon was not present at the start of Thursday's practice after suffering a knee injury against the Giants last week. Gordon didn't immediately leave for the locker room, instead taking a seat on the sideline stationary bike and pedaling for an extended period. But the fact that he wasn't around for the start of Thursday's workout could be an indication that he's facing an uphill climb to get on the field against the Jets.

The Patriots were without both Gordon and Phillip Dorsett for most of last week's game as Dorsett dealt with a hamstring injury. Dorsett was on the field Thursday and spoke to reporters Tuesday, showing some optimism that he wouldn't be unavailable for much longer.

Dorsett might only be one part of the reinforcements heading for Tom Brady's huddle Monday. Rex Burkhead — who missed the last two weeks and was limited in Week 4 with a foot injury — was also back on the practice fields Thursday. After rolling for 50 snaps with undrafted rookies Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski last week, the Patriots could have more veteran experience on the field in prime time at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots could also have a couple new roster additions in uniform a few days from now. They signed tight ends Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson this week, potentially adding enough depth to allow Josh McDaniels to roll with some of the two-tight end sets the Patriots have turned to in the past. Starter Matt LaCosse suffered a knee injury last week that kept him out of Thursday's practice and could keep him off the field on Monday, but Tomlinson and Watson could complement what Ryan Izzo gives the team as its top option at that position.

Tomlinson, in particular, is a fascinating addition in that he has the ability to play in the backfield as well as in traditional tight end roles. With both Patriots fullbacks — Jakob Johnson and James Develin — on injured reserve at the moment, perhaps Tomlinson sees fullback-style blocking assignments if he's in uniform against the Jets.

"He’s a bigger guy," Bill Belichick said Thursday. "Probably more of a . . . you know, bigger, has blocking ability. He has been in the backfield. He’s played on the line of scrimmage. So, I don’t know. We’ll see how that all plays out."

Watson, meanwhile, would likely serve in more of a "move" tight end role if LaCosse can't go.

If Brady looks around the huddle Monday night and sees Dorsett, Watson and Burkhead — to go along with old standbys Julian Edelman and James White — then that would probably qualify as a welcome sight for a quarterback who so values experience.

Fantasy Beat: Start/sit advice for Patriots & Jets>>>>>

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Jets' Adam Gase had an interesting way of complimenting Julian Edelman

Jets' Adam Gase had an interesting way of complimenting Julian Edelman

The New England Patriots have sustained success over the past twenty years by maintaining continuity.

So much continuity, in fact, that Adam Gase feels like they're creating clones.

The New York Jets head coach was asked Thursday if Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman reminded him of a certain player. Gase went the expected route -- with an amusing twist.

"Either Wes (Welker) or Danny (Amendola)," Gase said in a conference call with New England media. "I mean, it's like they're cloning guys up there, it feels like sometimes."

Gase is hardly the first to make this comparison: All three wideouts have similar builds (5-foot-11 or shorter, 195 pounds or lighter) and have been target hogs in the Patriots' offense.

Welker was Edelman's predecessor as Tom Brady's favorite slot receiver, amassing 672 catches over six seasons in New England from 2007 to 2012. Edelman immediately flourished after Welker's departure, catching 105 passes for 1,056 yards in 2013.

And when Edelman went down in 2017 with a torn ACL? Amendola stepped right in with 61 catches for 659 yards.

Edelman has blossomed into much more than just a Welker clone, though, and should be a handful for the Jets on Monday night.

"What makes him such a tough cover is he does a great job with the stem of his routes," Gase added. "The way he plays every play, he plays extremely hard. He makes things look the same. He does a great job after he gets the ball of getting vertical. His run-after-catch has really been something that he's created a lot of yards. There's so much he can do, inside and outside."

" ... He does exactly what those guys need him to do."

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