FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots' wide receiver group looks quite different than it did at the end of Super Bowl LIII in February.
Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and others departed over the offseason. Veterans Demaryius Thomas (free agent) and Josh Gordon (reinstated from suspension) have been added to the roster, along with talented rookies Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry.
Thomas' arrival, in particular, could have a strong impact on the Patriots with his ability to produce on the field and set a good example off the field for the team's younger players.
"I think it's awesome having a guy like Demaryius in there," Patriots wideout Julian Edelman said after Friday's practice.
"He's a veteran-type guy. He's made a lot of big plays in this league. He's had a lot of production in this league. He's played in a lot of big games. Anytime you have someone like that in your room it's awesome. The younger guys get to see how he prepares and how a professional is supposed to look."
Thomas has made an impressive recovery from a torn Achilles injury he suffered playing for the Houston Texans in December. He was cleared to return to practice last month and made his preseason debut in the fourth and final game.
The 31-year-old played well in that preseason matchup versus the New York Giants, tallying seven receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns with rookie Jarrett Stidham at quarterback. More important than the stats was Thomas moving/running well and looking ready to return to game action on a consistent basis.
The veteran wide receiver's status for Sunday night's Week 1 opener versus the Pittsburgh Steelers is uncertain. He's practiced all week but also has appeared on the injury report as a limited participant because of a hamstring issue.
Thomas proved last season before his injury that he's still capable of making a meaningful contribution. He tallied 59 receptions for 677 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games. The Patriots should be thrilled if he's able to give them close to that production in 2019.
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