Patriots wideout landscape entering Week 1? It's complicated

Patriots wideout landscape entering Week 1? It's complicated

We’re keeping both eyeballs on the Patriots wide receiver situation this week.

The main focus? How the team gets up-and-ready for the Steelers while trying to figure out which wideouts can take the field and how up-to-speed they will be.

Currently, the wide receiver group is Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Harry, Meyers and Olszewski are rookies.

Harry has been dealing with a leg injury for a month and has barely practiced.

Olszewski is an undrafted converted corner from Bemidji State and – while he could perhaps do a little damage from the slot kinda like a raw Edelman did back in 2009 – he’s not an ideal option to throw to. 

Meyers, also undrafted, was the Patriots most consistent participant in preseason.

Edelman is Edelman even with a sore thumb that, I’m told, was not terribly aggravated last Thursday in the preseason finale.

Dorsett is fine in that he’ll be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there and will catch the ball if open.

Gordon is far from being in good enough football shape to go for four quarters.

Looming on the outskirts is Demaryius Thomas. The Patriots released him Saturday but intend to bring him back (although Denver is also reportedly interested in him). The move there may be to put Harry on IR to clear a spot for Thomas.

Harry would be down for six weeks and could play after Week 8. Former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi tweeted an all-caps “YES” when asked Sunday if Harry was an IR candidate.

“The whole receiver situation was challenging all through camp with the limited availability of certain players, I’d say most of the players at that position at one point or another,” Bill Belichick acknowledged on a Sunday morning conference call. “We just have to use the information that we have and do the best we can with it. We’ll have to see how it goes.”

Asked whether Harry’s lagging behind after missing a month, Belichick confirmed that he is with a general statement.

“I feel all players benefit from practicing, otherwise there’d be no point in us doing it,” he said. "So those are opportunities. Every player’s missed time at one point or another for whatever the reasons are. It’s something we deal with all the time. It’s very rare in the National Football League that every player on your team is 100 percent healthy. It’s life in the NFL.”

How soon before Harry’s life improves enough to contribute?

“He’s definitely getting better,” Belichick said. “All of our injured players are getting better. Where exactly they are … some of them didn’t play in the game (Thursday), we didn’t practice Friday, we didn’t practice (Saturday) so we’ll see where we’re at.”

Wideout isn’t the only complicated spot for the Patriots to suss out on offense. At tight end, Ryan Izzo is the only healthy player who’ll be available Week 1 against the Steelers unless Matt Lacosse makes a very speedy recovery from the player who was moving at a trot in pregame warmups last Thursday.

The other tight ends on the roster, Lance Kendricks and Benjamin Watson, will be unavailable because of PED suspensions.

In other words, if you have Tom Brady on your fantasy team, the bench is probably a good spot for him. But if you have James White and Edelman? They are must-starts. They are about the only proven options Brady will have to open 2019.

All undrafted players to make the Patriots initial roster since 2004>>>

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Tedy Bruschi names his top five Patriots linebackers

Tedy Bruschi names his top five Patriots linebackers

Linebacker has been a position of strength for the New England Patriots for most of their 20-year dynasty, and one of the big reasons they've been able to sustain such a high level of success

Tedy Bruschi was a key linebacker for New England from 1996 to 2008. A three-time Super Bowl champion, Bruschi was inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2013. There's no doubt he's one of the best LBs in Patriots history.

But on Wednesday, a humble Bruschi took on the task of naming his top five Patriots linebackers of the Tom Brady era, and he didn't include himself.

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Here's who he did name, per WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria".

Five, I heard you guys talking about (Rob) Ninkovich and I think that was a good call, that Rob and the timely plays he made, that sort of edge presence was strong. I go with Ninkovich at five.

I go (Roman) Phifer at four. Phife is someone that people forget about. Now, Phife never came off the field, through all those three championship runs — the early ones — Phife was like that guy now that splits out and covers the guy on the slots, and he’d beat up the tight end, or he’d have to cover a back. Phife did so much for us on the punt team with me and (Mike Vrabel), that type of guy. So Phifer was definitely one of the top ones for me.

For three, I have to put Hightower at three. Dont’a just made so many big plays in so many big games. So he’d be three for me.

Two, I’d go with Vrabel. all the reasons you guys have talked about already, but Vrabel, there was also a time during that stretch where he had to play inside linebacker. Inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end, those type of guys. So Vrabel is two.

And I put (Willie) McGinest at one. In terms of a d-end, and also getting up and playing outside linebacker, setting the tone in the locker room, I mean, he was there even for the ’96 Super Bowl for me when I was a rookie there, so one would be Willie for me.

That's definitely a tough top five to argue with. Of course, Bruschi probably should be in there.

Jerod Mayo, Junior Seau, and Ted Johnson all are honorable mentions. And if we're talking non-Brady era, Andre Tippett's likely in the top spot.

The Patriots lost a pair of key linebackers in free agency this offseason as Kyle Van Noy signed a four-year deal with the Miami Dolphins and Jamie Collins left for the Detroit Lions on a three-year contract.

Bill Belichick shares important message amid coronavirus pandemic

Bill Belichick shares important message amid coronavirus pandemic

As much of the world continues to adjust to life during the coronavirus pandemic, a number of Boston sports figures have delivered messages of encouragement as well as important reminders to stay home.

On Wednesday, Bill Belichick became the latest to do so. The New England Patriots head coach issued a PSA thanking medical professionals and urging the public to stay home during these difficult times.

"Hello, this is Bill Belichick. I want to reach out to you in these uncertain and unprecedented times to let you know that I, and the New England Patriots, are behind you. We are all in this together.

"Thank you to our heroic medical professionals -- doctors, nurses, medical workers, and others -- who are selflessly and courageously doing their job to take care of others in need. We have heard your stories and seen some of your great work. You are truly champions and warriors.

"We are facing a difficult opponent. It will take teamwork, discipline, and commitment to do the right things all the time. That includes staying at home. I encourage everyone to shelter in place for as long as necessary as we fight this virus together. There are plenty of things we cannot do right now, but let's focus on what we can do. We can adapt, we can adjust, and we can make better decisions right now for the betterment of the future. As I tell our team, let's keep stringing good days together, and we will get through this."

Watch below:

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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman delivered a similar message on Friday. And after testing positive for the coronavirus, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has gone above and beyond in raising awareness about the importance of quarantining during the pandemic. He also will be donating plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.