The New England Patriots have a huge battle going on at the wide receiver position, with Donte’ Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, and Julian Edelman all vying for the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind stars Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker. Nobody is standing out at the moment, so it’s still anyone’s game. My money is on either Gaffney or Stallworth, with Branch being the clear odd man out.
Stallworth is easily the most intriguing of them all because of how he has been performing in camp. He still has a high amount of athleticism and speed, which is something Bill Belichick noted.
“I think Donte’ has had a solid camp,” Belichick said. “He’s shown that he still has his speed. Athletic. Gets down the field well. And he’s tough, he comes in and blocks. Is good with the ball in his hands. I think he’s been very competitive with that group.”
I think Stallworth has had a good camp, but it hasn’t been consistent. He’s shown off his athletic ability and speed, which is certainly more than encouraging for a veteran receiver. However, he had a lot of drops yesterday and needs to be a more consistent target for Tom Brady and the offense in practice. Nothing will be sorted out at the WR3 until the end of the preseason, and Stallworth has the fast track on the gig if he can haul in more passes.
What’s interesting is that, if Stallworth has his speed, why not try giving him some kick-off return reps? I mean, how bad can it be? It’s worth a shot in practice. I mean, he’s still fast and can be a good deep threat for this team. Stallworth hasn’t done returns since he played for the New Orleans Saints, but it’s definitely worth it to give him a try given the lack of a good kick-off returner on the Patriots roster. Julian Edelman is much better at returning punts, while Danny Woodhead is an underwhelming returner who never gives you the sense that he’s going to give you a big return.
So, why not? Give Donte’ Stallworth a shot. He’s already shown that he can get open and downfield in a hurry, and he has made some great grabs in camp. Age hasn’t slowed him down as much as people think, and you never know unless if you try. Stallworth needs to develop some consistency as a pass-catcher, and the MNF preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles will be his chance to shine. Or not. I’d like to think he’ll do well, since he looks like the most dangerous of the receivers contending for the No. 3 job; he definitely adds something different to this receiving corps.
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