Had the New England Patriots had their way, Phillip Dorsett likely would not have played much, if at all, in last Thursday’s season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The wide receiver had been acquired just five days earlier, after all, hardly enough time to get a firm grasp on New England’s complicated offensive playbook. But injuries forced head coach Bill Belichick’s hand.
With Malcolm Mitchell landing on injured reserve shortly before kickoff and Danny Amendola going down with a concussion during the second half, Dorsett wound up playing 18 snaps in the Patriots’ 42-27 defeat, finishing with zero catches on one target.
At game’s end, the former Indianapolis Colt was one of just three healthy Patriots receivers (along with Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan), and even if the team brings in reinforcements at the position this week, he should expect to play a more prominent role in this Sunday’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
In order to do so, however, Dorsett first will need to build a rapport with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Based on comments Brady made Monday morning on WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan,” the QB and wideout still are getting to know each other.
“I’m sure he’s obviously going to play a bigger role,” Brady said. “It’s just a matter of how much practice time we have and getting up to speed and trusting one another and so forth. It is challenging getting a guy at that final cut, because they’ve been working with another team for four or five months, and then they do things differently from the way we do them. …
“We’re going to have to work together and spend extra time. If he’s going to play a significant role, I have to have the trust in him, and we’ve gotta go out there and do it together.”
The Patriots’ issues at receiver began when Julian Edelman tore his ACL in Week 3 of the preseason, sidelining him until 2018. Edelman easily was Brady’s favorite target last season (team-high 98 catches on 158 targets), and New England failed to replicate his production against the Chiefs, especially after Amendola’s early exit.
Amendola caught six passes for 100 yards in the loss, and in the Patriots’ final three drives following his injury, Brady went 0-for-6 passing and was sacked three times.
“I think we will feel (the effects of Edelman’s injury) all year,” Brady told “K&C.” “He’s just one of those types of players. And I think Danny was obviously having a great game and we went out. Malcolm, we’ve worked a lot with him and he was out. I think it is always about consistency, dependability.
“That is the challenge of a football season. You wish you were in midseason form, but you have a lot of new people you’re working with and you have to develop trust and create this urgency. They have to understand me and I have to understand them. The backs have to understand the line and vice versa. It’s always a bit of a challenge, and that is what we’re working hard for everyone to get up to speed on.”
Thumbnail photo via Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports Images