FOXBORO — It seems as though 42-year old Tom Brady will not have a lack of options to throw to this season.
What was once a group filled with question marks, the New England Patriots wide receiving core is now filled with plenty of depth and potential.
With Josh Gordon reinstated to the NFL, Demaryius Thomas off the PUP list and the emergence of undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers, there has been some surprising and positive developments to this Patriots offense this preseason.
Add those guys in to the other solidified options in Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry and Brady should be a very happy quarterback.
Some players who might not be so happy are the other wide receivers who have now moved down in the depth chart. Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, Ryan Davis, Damoun Patterson and Gunnar Olszewski have to play with something to prove to either maintain a role on the roster or carve out a new one.
Meyers has convincingly proved that he not only deserves a spot on New England’s 53-man roster, but also that he deserved to be drafted. He impressed all throughout training camp and proved that he could do it in live action, grabbing 12 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the first two preseason games.
Berrios has been carving out his role on the Super Bowl champion Patriots on special teams. He currently seems to be the number one option when it comes to kick returns, which would make him valuable enough to keep around, especially if the team wants to keep Edelman out of that role to limit the opportunity for injury.
That leaves Harris, Patterson, Davis and Olszewski, not counting Cameron Meredith who is on NFI. Harris’ issue has been with inconsistencies – dropping two passes for touchdowns in the first preseason game of the year. There’s nothing Brady values more than reliability, so that may be the downfall for Harris.
Out of the group, Olszewski and Patterson seem to be top candidates for the practice squad.
While there is a lot of reason to be hopeful about this group of wide receivers, there’s always room for caution.
Gordon remains on NFI with no indication of when he’ll come off. He hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year in the NFL. Thomas is no longer a spring chicken and the team has yet to see him fully perform since his torn Achilles. With that being said, the upside of this group of receivers is higher than it’s ever been.