On Friday we saw the return of the New England Patriots as they faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles in each teams first preseason action. In the last two installments of these articles, I covered the quarterbacks and running backs. To save some time, I’m going to mix both the wide receivers and tight ends together into one recap. So, in this part, I will give my thoughts on how the Patriots receivers played, who shined, and who disappointed. So, let’s get right to it.
Kenbrell Thompkins- Kenbrell Thompkins was the star of the Patriots receiving core in this first game. The undrafted rookie free agent looked very nice in his first preseason game, showing some good hands, excellent route running, good knowledge of the playbook, and very nice chemistry with Tom Brady, despite the fact they only had a few weeks to get to know each other well. Thompkins did not start this game, but that didn’t matter as he was involved in a lot of offensive plays, and easily had the most targets among the first team offense. Thompkins finished the game with four catches for 23 yards, and five total targets. I’d love to see him play a lot more in the next preseason game with the first team offense, and continue to build trust with Brady. It’s still a little early, but I think Thompkins has cemented his spot on the 53 man roster, and as a potential big time weapon.
Aaron Dobson- The second of four rookie receivers, Dobson played the most, and was given the most targets on the team. Dobson looked quite good, he started alongside Danny Amendola, and seemed to look comfortable with Brady. He made one big catch from Brady for 23 yards, and another from Ryan Mallett for 12 yards, but was also targeted eight times. Some were over or under throws from Mallett, and another was a drop. So it was a bit of an inconsistent night from the big receiver, but a solid night. He showed flashes of big play ability, but still needs to find a way to put it all together. Hopefully more game time with Brady throwing, will do him some good.
Danny Amendola- Amendola didn’t have much impact on this game, so it’s to really judge how he did. The only catch he made was a six yard underneath pass from Brady on the second drive of the game. Once Brady came out, Amendola did as well, ending his night before the first quarter ended. Wether this either to keep him healthy, or to hide what he can do from teams before the season starts, we just didn’t see enough to determine if he looked good. Again, more time in the Buccaneers game would be nice to see.
Julian Edelman- Edelman made his return to the Patriots lineup after he was hurt late last season, and looked good I’d say. He was very involved with the second team offense, catching some screen passes, and working underneath the defense. One scary moment came after he came back to the ball and made a catch, only to get smashed over the neck. Fortunately, he popped right back up and was ready for the next play. I think Edelman can be a big part of this offense, catching passes out of the backfield, and being a dynamic weapon. He was looking fantastic last season before he got hurt, and I would expect him to carry some of that over to this year. So long as he doesn’t break before or during the season.
Zach Sudfeld- Sudfeld started this game alongside Jake Ballard, in the Patriots traditional two tight end system and showed some real promise. He’s a solid blocker, but his real value may lie in his impressive size, and receiving ability. Sudfeld only caught one ball, but it was a great play, which went for 20 yards, as he bounced off tackles and made a bunch of nimble moves. He’s going to be a big part of the offense with Gronk gone for potentially awhile, and the undrafted free agent should continue to build chemistry with Brady.
Daniel Fells- Fells caught all three of the passes thrown towards him on the same drive from backup Ryan Mallett, on the same drive. Fells real value isn’t going to be in his pass catching, which isn’t to say he can’t contribute, but it will be in his blocking. Him along with Michael Hoomanawanui, will be big time blockers for this team going forward. While I think Hoomanawanui will be ahead of Fells because he’s more versatile, as he’s more used to blocking out of the backfield, Fells should get some looks here and there. Solid job from him, nothing spectacular, but no one is expecting much out of him from that standpoint.
Kamar Aiken- Aiken made a small contribution to the game last night with two catches on the night for 23 yards, including a nice one where he showed great awareness coming back to the ball and making a catch from Tebow. Aiken is fighting for a roster spot, but I think with all the talent ahead of him, and the emergence of Kenbrell Thompkins, he will fall short. I’d like to see a lot more of him however because he’s pretty intriguing as a prospect at 6’2, 213, but that’s about it.
Josh Boyce- Boyce jumps on this list, even though he did not make a catch in the game. He was involved in a lot of first and second team snaps, and had an easy touchdown for himself, before Mallett badly overthrew him. Boyce is incredibly explosive, probably the most explosive player on the Patriots offense not named Shane Vereen. I expect a lot more looks to go his way in this next upcoming game.
It’s also worth noting that Michael Jenkins did not dress for this game, probably meaning that the coaching staff is very high on the young receiving core. It’s looking more and more likely that Jenkins might not make the final 53 man roster.
The receivers looked very sharp on Friday, Thompkins and Edelman probably looked best to me, along with the inconsistent Dobson. More Aiken, Boyce, Sudfeld and Ballard is what I’m wanting to see next game, as we just didn’t see enough of them to really judge their play. But I was very happy with what I saw from this apparent, “bad” or “weak” receiving core, as the rest of the NFL media had labeled them a month or so ago. What did you guys think about the receivers play against the Eagles? Who was your favorite to watch, and who are you watching next week? Let me know down in the comments.
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