Patriots roster reset: Wide receiver depth chart

Patriots roster reset: Wide receiver depth chart

The wide receiver position is one of the most in-flux areas for the 2019 New England Patriots. Heading into training camp, Tom Brady will be without Julian Edelman (finger), Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Josh Gordon, not to mention tight end Rob Gronkowski. 

Edelman's injury shouldn't keep him out of any regular season games, so Brady will still have his favorite target for the games that matter. In the offseason, New England has made a point to retool the receiving corps in the absence of Gronkowski and the other losses. That's why they spent their first round pick on Arizona State wideout N'Keal Harry. They took chances on veteran free agents Demaryius Thomas and Dontrelle Inman. 

New England also added Maurice Harris, who played slot receiver in Washington for the past three seasons. In training camp, undrafted quarterback-convert Jakobi Meyers, practice squad journeyman Damoun Patterson, undrafted rookie Ryan Davis and ex-defensive back Gunner Olszewski will also compete for reps. 

But without Gronkowski and Gordon, Brady will likely have to rely on Edelman and the rookie for the bulk of the passing game. New England's track record taking flyers on veteran receivers (Chad Ochocinco, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker) is shaky, and Phillip Dorsett — who is returning to the team — has never averaged more than 2.2 receptions per game. Braxton Berrios may make his NFL debut after missing his rookie season with an undisclosed injury. 

Full List of WRs: 
Julian Edelman
Phillip Dorsett
Demaryius Thomas
N'Keal Harry
Dontrelle Inman
Maurice Harris
Braxton Berrios
Matthew Slater
Jakobi Meyers
Damoun Patterson
Ryan Davis
Gunner Olszewski

In 2018, the Patriots carried three tight ends (Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister) and six receivers including gunner Matthew Slater. If they plan to do that again this year, Berrios, Thomas, Inman and Harris may be fighting for the final two spots on the 53-man roster.

Thomas, probably the most talented of the bunch, is starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list, which risks losing valuable time to develop chemistry with Brady. Berrios, whom the Patriots selected with last year's sixth round pick, adds value as a slot receiver and punt returner. At 6-foot-3, Inman could add an option outside the numbers. Harris, also 6-foot-3, caught one touchdown in his three previous seasons with the Redskins. 

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Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

The New England Patriots already have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season, and few would blame Bill Belichick -- the oldest head coach in the league at 68 -- if he made a similar decision.

So, did concerns about COVID-19 lead Belichick to consider not coaching in 2020? It doesn't appear so.

"I feel very good about the environment that we're in," Belichick said Friday in a video conference with reporters. "I feel fine."

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Belichick also confirmed no coaches on his staff have backed out of the 2020 season.

The Patriots are in the "acclimation period" of training camp, with players going through non-padded walk-throughs outside Gillette Stadium as they ramp up for their first padded practice on Aug. 17.

According to Belichick, the players and staff in the building feel confident in their safety so far.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I think my impression is that as an organization, as a coaching staff, the support people, the players -- there's a comfort level with what we're doing and who's doing it and how we're doing it, and we're being productive," Belichick said.

"So, if concerns or problems come up, then we'll address those. But right now, I think it's a good working environment. We're getting a lot done."

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The Patriots, like every other team, have to follow rigorous safety protocols that include frequent COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and physical distancing measures. That "new normal" will take some getting used to, but Belichick believes the protocols have helped create an environment that coaches and staff feel safe in.

"The organization has taken a lot of steps to ensure everyone's safety and opportunity to do their job and do it safely and do it productively," Belichick said. 

"Certainly there's a lot of responsibility on each one of us to do things in a way that doesn't affect others negatively, that we take the proper precautions that we can and should, so that's what we're doing."

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu finally doesn't have to fly across the country to work out with his new quarterback.

The New England Patriots began Phase 1 of training camp this week by hitting the practice field as a team outside Gillette Stadium.

That means Cam Newton joined his Patriots teammates in an official capacity for the first time, and Sanu seems pretty excited about having his new quarterback in the building.

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Here's the Instagram shout-out Sanu gave Newton Thursday on Instagram via a photo of the two in Patriots gear at training camp:

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Beannnn & Ace booogie wit da hoodie

A post shared by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

Sanu and Newton teamed up for informal throwing sessions in Los Angeles just days after the 31-year-old quarterback signed with the Patriots in free agency and appeared to develop a strong connection.

Like Newton, Sanu has a lot to prove this season after an ankle injury plagued his 2019 campaign with New England. The 30-year-old sprained his ankle in his second game with the Patriots last season after a midseason trade from the Atlanta Falcons and caught three passes or fewer in his final six games of the season.

Sanu projects to be the Patriots' No. 2 wide receiver this season behind Julian Edelman, so if he can stay healthy, he could go a long way in helping Newton and the Patriots finding success this season despite a wave of player opt-outs.