On Friday, the New England Patriots played their second preseason game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a winning effort of 25-21. In the last two reviews of this game, I covered the quarterbacks and running backs, and in the logical progression of things, the receivers are next. With the running backs having an off day, it was even more important that the receivers picked up the slack, and that’s exactly what they did. So, lets talk about how the New England Patriots receiving corps performed.
Danny Amendola- Amendola has officially arrived in New England. The biggest Patriots offseason acquisition made a serious impact on the night, showing just how versatile he is. Catching short passes in the flats, catching medium passes over the middle, and semi-deep passes, it did not matter, Amendola was making the play. Without Darrelle Revis playing, Amendola had himself a field day on the Bucs awful pass defense, collecting six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Amendola really showed how much his time spent with Brady over the offseason helped their chemistry, as they were perfectly in sync. Amendola may have only played two series, like Brady did, but it was enough to see that he was easily the best receiver on both teams.
Kendbrell Thompkins- Thompkins level of play took a sharp drop from last game, as he only managed one catch for three yards, and four targets. With Brady’s focus shifting to Amendola, Thompkins suffered for it. Of course Brady can only get the ball around so much in two series of play so don’t too much into that. Hopefully Brady will be able to play more than the first quarter in the Patriots third preseason game against the Lions, so that Thompkins can get more looks, and continue to develop an already solid chemistry, because it’s not like Thompkins did anything poorly like run bad routes or drop any balls, it just happened to be this game he didn’t get the looks.
Josh Boyce- Josh Boyce finally made some impact in a preseason game, as the last preseason game against the Eagles, he didn’t have a catch. Even though he made three catches, he still didn’t manage much of an impact, only getting nine yards. Boyce has’t been able to show off his world beating speed yet, which is easily his best weapon, and what he can really bring to the Patriots. So with him being unable to get out of the blocks, it’s looking like he’ll probably be on the bottom of the heap in terms of Patriots wide receivers making the team, which could be good for him, allowing himself to develop his skills, and make the impact we know he can when he does get on the field. What he can bring right now is returning kickoffs and punts. He had two returns for a total of 56 yards on kickoffs, so nothing too special but he does have the ability to hit the home run.
Aaron Dobson- Aaron Dobson was once again was good, for the second week in a row, but he still hasn’t been able to find his chemistry with Brady like Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins have done so easily. Aaron Dobson was more of a project coming into training camp, so it’s tough to expect the world of him immediately, but you do expect excellence from people who play with Brady. He finished this game with two catches for 30 yards, which was highlighted by a great over the shoulder catch from Ryan Mallett. Dobson does have great potential to be the long awaited “deep threat” that the Patriots have been missing since Randy Moss was racking up records, so it will pay to be patient with him. Right now, it seems that Thompkins has overtaken the number two spot from Dobson, but Dobson will still get plenty of looks.
Julian Edelman- Edelman seems to be the number four guy on the depth chart. He’s not able to one particular thing great, but does a bunch of things very well. He showed that it can come from the short flat catching screens, or over the middle. He managed four catches for 26 yards, but still hasn’t seemed to find the stride that he had late last season. Edelman also has been given some return duties, although he wasn’t making much of an impact on Friday, only gathering five yards on two punt returns. We all know what Edelman is capable there, so I wouldn’t be too worried about lack of production.
Zach Sudfeld- Sudfeld was the Patriots second best receiver on the night, and the best tight end out of both teams. Sudfeld had the play of the night when he lunged for a catch, grasped it, had it knocked away, only to grab it again in one smooth motion for a touchdown from Ryan Mallett. We all knew he was a pretty good pass catcher, but he’s also showing some very good stuff at pass blocking as well. Right now it seems that he is the leader to start the season with Rob Gronkowski still out, and with the way he has played, it’s no surprise why he has this position.
Michael Hoomanawanui- Hoomanawanui finally gave some production through the air against the Bucs, as he caught a dump off pass for 14 yards. We all know that Hoomanawanui is not going to bring much in a production standpoint, but he can sure block well. If Hoomanawanui does indeed make the team again, it’s looking like he’ll be given a lock of lead blocking duties for the running backs.
Jake Ballard- Ballard did not record a catch on Friday, but again showed some great flashes of excellent blocking. With the Patriots having no plans to drop the two tight end system any time soon, Ballard will still have plenty of use on the team, and will hopefully be able to provide some offense to go along with it.
The Patriots receivers were definitly the highlight of their offense on Friday, as guys like Amendola and Sudfeld showed excellent production to go along with their quick growth in this system. You do have to take this with a grain of salt however, as all the passing defenses the Patriots have played so far have been pretty bad. All I want to see, is more game time action between Brady and the new receivers, about a half should be good to give a real nice evaluation of the first team offense as a whole.
Give me a follow on twitter, @TheMattyWin for more Patriots analysis and coverage.