Patriots

Why Phillip Dorsett will need to be ready for more in Denver

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Why Phillip Dorsett will need to be ready for more in Denver

The Patriots make use of myriad personnel groupings and formations offensively, but like the rest of the NFL, there's one set that they favor over all others: 11 personnel. 

One back. One tight end. Three receivers. It is the modern NFL's primary offensive setup. According to Football Outsiders, 2016 was the sixth consecutive year that three-wideout formations saw an increase. Eleven personnel accounted for more than 60 percent of all offensive plays, and every offense in the league used it for at least 40 percent of their snaps. It was more than 3.5 times as common as any other formation, per Football Outsiders.

Though the Patriots still make great use of two-back sets -- deploying both "pony" formations as well as more traditional power formations with a fullback -- they have favored 11-personnel groupings over all others this season, running with three receivers on the field for 48 percent of their offensive snaps. 

With that in mind, Phillip Dorsett may have to be ready for a steep increase in playing time this weekend. If Chris Hogan, who injured his shoulder in Week 8 against the Chargers, can't play then it could be up to Dorsett to fill in. 

Brandin Cooks is the clear-cut No. 1, having played almost 92 percent of snaps this season. And Danny Amendola (49 percent) would likely slot in as the No. 2 if Hogan misses time. That would leave Dorsett (19 percent) as the likely No. 3 in New England's three-receiver looks. 

The Patriots could turn to their pass-catching backs more often to help make up for Hogan's loss. They have three they can rely upon in James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. But there will certainly be 11-personnel plays the Patriots will want to keep available to them in Denver. And for those they'll need Dorsett.

"Yeah, Phillip – he came in and didn’t really have a whole lot of extra practices from camp and the spring, like some of our guys or most of our guys did," Josh McDaniels said during a conference call on Monday morning. "He just kind of got thrown in there, and he’s really doing a good job of working hard, working extra with Coach [Chad] O’Shea. Chad’s doing a great job of trying to get him caught up on some of the things, the foundational things that you need to be able to go from one week to the next and feel like you’re not learning a new offense every single week.

"Phillip’s a smart kid, he works hard, he’s got a good work ethic, good attitude and he’s continued to work at playing different spots and being ready to go when his opportunities come up. Hopefully, that will continue to progress as we go through the season. I know that’s what he wants. I know that’s what we want, and we’re looking forward to that."

Dorsett has seen eight snaps for the Patriots in each of the last two weeks despite being given a start Week 7 against the Falcons. He's caught four passes on seven targets for 85 yards for an average of 21.3 yards per catch. He last saw a pass come his way in Week 6 against the Jets, though he didn't catch any of the three targets he saw that day, and one was intercepted deep down the middle of the field by corner Buster Skrine.

NFL Rumors: Patriots have spoken with WR Terrelle Pryor

NFL Rumors: Patriots have spoken with WR Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor is ready to attempt an NFL comeback, and the New England Patriots apparently have expressed some interest in giving him a shot.

The 31-year-old quarterback-turned-wide receiver last played in 2018 when he spent two games with the Buffalo Bills and six with the New York Jets. Last November, he suffered serious injuries to his shoulder and chest in a stabbing incident that put his career in jeopardy.

With that scary event behind him, Pryor has resumed working to get back onto the field and he says he has been in contact with five NFL teams -- namely the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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"Those two are very intriguing," Pryor told TMZ Sports. "Especially Cam [Newton]. I've been a big fan of him throughout the years ... And, obviously, Big Ben [Roethlisberger], that's my hometown of Pittsburgh, so that's just two teams that I really want to play for."

"I can still play," Pryor added. "And, I can still make plays and dominate. I know that."

Watch below:

It's been a while since Pryor has been a productive receiver. His most notable season came in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, when he hauled in 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.

It wouldn't hurt the Patriots to bring in Pryor on the cheap, especially since they recently created major cap space. New England's wide receiver depth chart is a bit thin heading into training camp with Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry, Marqise Lee, Damiere Byrd, and Jakobi Meyers currently on the squad among others who will compete for roles on the 53-man roster.

Ex-Panthers player says Cam Newton with Bill Belichick is 'terrifying'

Ex-Panthers player says Cam Newton with Bill Belichick is 'terrifying'

A healthy Cam Newton at quarterback is an exciting thought for New England Patriots fans, but a "terrifying" one for players across the league.

Newton clearly has a chip on his shoulder as he returns from an injury-plagued 2019 to compete for the Patriots' starting job. The 2015 NFL MVP already has posted multiple hype videos and social media posts emphasizing his motivation as he begins his new chapter.

If Newton indeed is at full strength in 2020, that could spell trouble for the rest of the league. New York Jets guard Greg Van Roten, who spent five years with Newton on the Carolina Panthers, explained on SiriusXM NFL Radio why Newton joining forces with head coach Bill Belichick could be a serious problem for opponents.

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"It's definitely terrifying to think if Cam Newton's healthy and he's in Belichick's offense, you know, in my division, it could be a long year for the other teams, because he's a game-changer," Van Roten said. "He came into the league, you know, he's a league MVP, brought a team to the Super Bowl – he's just built differently than a lot of quarterbacks. And he's a headache to game plan for.

"So when he's healthy, you can stop the run from him, but then you gotta defend the pass. If you can stop the pass, well then you've got to account for the run. So, it's basically, pick one thing and he'll do the other. And then you couple him with Belichick, who only cares about winning and Cam really wants to prove himself, so it's definitely a recipe for disaster for the rest of the league if they can figure it out."

Watch the full clip below:

Newton still will have plenty to prove once training camp comes around, but the three-time Pro Bowler has wasted no time getting up to speed with the Patriots offense. Last week, Newton posted a photo of himself studying the Pats' playbook and also spent some time working out with second-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry.

With a motivated Newton ready to learn under arguably the greatest head coach of all time, it's easy to see why opposing teams are petrified of what the duo can accomplish together.