Patriots

What's Josh Gordon's impact on the Patriots receiver depth chart?

What's Josh Gordon's impact on the Patriots receiver depth chart?

With Josh Gordon back in the fold, one of the immediate questions that springs to mind -- from a pure football perspective -- is how does his return impact the receiver depth chart in Foxboro?

The assumption is that Gordon will be in shape when he returns to Patriots practices next week. The assumption is that he'll sit at or near the top of the depth chart, as he did last season, along with Julian Edelman. 

But what about everyone else? 

THE ROOKIES
It'll be fascinating to see how Gordon's return impacts the development of N'Keal Harry. It could go one of two ways, one would think. Either he has less on his plate, transitions more smoothly, and thrives on the outside opposite Gordon with Edelman roaming the middle of the field. What I think would be a less likely scenario is that he loses reps based on Gordon's presence, and the progress we've seen Harry make over the course of the summer is somewhat stalled. Harry is injured at the moment so whether Gordon is with the team or not, he'll need to get healthy and find his way back into receiving valuable practice snaps. 

Jakobi Meyers, meanwhile, may suddenly find himself getting less work with Tom Brady as the receiver depth chart all of a sudden has become more competitive. Meyers has been one of the stars of camp for the Patriots, and he's been their most consistent receiver. He's gained Brady's trust, it seems, thriving in game-like practice scenarios with his savvy route-running and sure hands. He may have just gone from a No. 3 or No. 4, though, to a No. 4 or No. 5. I still believe he's earned a spot on the 53-man roster. 

THE BUBBLE BOYS
Gordon's arrival could most significantly impact Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios. Injuries notwithstanding -- and Dorsett and Harris are both currently dealing with ailments -- there may have been room for two of those three wideouts. Now there may be room for only one. 

Would the team go with Harris, who was an early standout in camp and has shown he has a grasp of the Patriots offense after only arriving a few months ago? Would they go with Dorsett, who has come through for Brady in clutch situations in the past despite having a relatively niche role in the offense? Or would they go with Berrios, whose skill set sets him apart from the other two? 

Berrios is an interesting study in that he's a true slot. Not like Harris or Dorsett, and certainly unlike Gordon. His presence inside (and as a punt returner) might save Julian Edelman from punishment in the middle of the field. Would the Patriots part ways with someone in that role in order to make room for another outside option? 

After pursuing the likes of Adam Humphries and Cole Beasley this offseason, I think the Patriots might opt to keep Berrios if he continues to progress in camp. The other two seem less safe now with Gordon's reinstatement.

THE UPHILL CLIMBERS
Others whose odds at a roster spot seem significantly diminished now with Gordon's return include veteran Dontrelle Inman, despite some nice moments against the Lions in preseason game No. 1 and a solid week of practice in Tennessee this week. 

Damoun Patterson (practice-squadder in 2018), Gunner Olszewski (corner-turned-receiver who has impressed at times and received all kinds of work in the return game) and Ryan Davis (Jarrett Stidham's teammate at Auburn who looks like a classic slot) were always longshots to make the roster but could end up as solid practice-squad additions should they clear waivers before the start of the regular season. 

Demaryius Thomas and Cam Meredith remain on the physically unable to perform list and could come off at any time, but with Gordon now an option, there is no pressure on either to come back and try to chip in for a receiving corps before they're fully ready to go. 

Here's how I see the Patriots depth chart shaking out at receiver at this point. If I had to pick a 53-man roster, it'd include Edelman, Gordon, Harry, Meyers and Berrios as well as special teams ace Matthew Slater . . . 

Julian Edelman (NFI)
Josh Gordon
N'Keal Harry
Jakobi Meyers
Braxton Berrios
Phillip Dorsett
Maurice Harris
Demaryius Thomas (PUP)
Cam Meredith (PUP)
Dontrelle Inman
Damoun Patterson
Gunner Olszewski
Ryan Davis
Matthew Slater (special-teams)

 

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Adam Gase explains what Jets were looking for in Demaryius Thomas trade

Adam Gase explains what Jets were looking for in Demaryius Thomas trade

The New England Patriots hadn't made a trade with the New York Jets during Bill Belichick's 20-year tenure in Foxboro until the defending champs dealt veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to the Big Apple after their Week 1 win.

Thomas was signed by the Patriots in May, but after the addition of elite wide receiver Antonio Brown last week, they moved on from Thomas and sent him to the Jets for a 2021 sixth-round pick

Jets head coach Adam Gase was asked about the trade during his media conference call Wednesday, and he explained what New York was looking for when it made the call to the Patriots.

"I think when (Jets general manager) Joe Douglas came to me, and when (Antonio Brown) got there, we were kind of in a situation where if we could find somebody that had knowledge of the system, that could help us, that was somebody that fit what we were looking for, which obviously Demaryius does," Gase said. "We were trying to figure out, 'How could we go about this?' I think to Joe's credit, he was like, 'I'm just going to call him and the worst they could say is no.' And when they said, "Let's talk," then those guys worked it out."

Trading with a division rival is difficult, but Belichick isn't afraid to make that kind of move if he feels it will help his team.

"We don't want to help the Jets, and they don't want to help us," Belichick said Tuesday. "We're in the same division, so they're not the easiest trades to make. ... But in the end, if it helps us in the other 14 games and helps our team, then it's something that's worth considering. We'll try to help our team in any way we can."

Belichick also added: "When you look at the beginning of each year, inter-division trading is probably not something that you think is going to be at the top of the list," Belichick added. "But we traded with Buffalo this year, too (acquiring center Russell Bodine from the Bills), so we made two inter-division trades within a week. You never know."

Thomas made his Jets debut during Monday night's loss to the Cleveland Browns. He made one catch for minus-1 yard on two targets.

The 31-year-old wide receiver didn't participate in Wednesday's practice due to a hamstring/knee injury, so it's uncertain if he'll play against the Patriots on Sunday.

Jets coach has high praise for Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore>>>

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Referee assigned to Patriots vs. Jets Week 3 game also officiated Super Bowl LI

Referee assigned to Patriots vs. Jets Week 3 game also officiated Super Bowl LI

New England Patriots fans might recognize the referee assigned to Sunday's Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.

Carl Cheffers will work the game, and he also was the referee for Super Bowl LI, where the Patriots pulled off a historic comeback to beat the Altanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime after trailing 28-3 in the third quarter. Cheffers, ironically, wears No. 51.

The Patriots have an 8-3 record in games which Cheffers has served as the referee. The last Patriots game he officiated was New England's embarrassing Week 2 road loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Last week's Patriots game against the Miami Dolphins was officiated by Bill Vinovich, who also officiated New England's victory in Super Bowl XLIX.

The defending Super Bowl champions have won their first two games of the season by a combined score of 76-3. The Patriots also have won six straight games against the Jets, and they are massive betting favorites entering their Week 3 matchup.

Jets coach has high praise for Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore>>>

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