5 Players who must step-up for Patriots

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3. Brandon LaFell

Since his painful six-drop effort against the New York Jets, LaFell has been getting better each week. In the past two games, LaFell has done a great job of stretching the field for Brady, snagging a 48-yard bomb against the Washington Redskins and a 54-yarder on Sunday afternoon. The Pats needed a deep threat during LaFell’s spell on the PUP list, and he has delivered since returning to the field.

As mentioned previously, Amendola is the most immediate answer to Edelman’s absence because of his similar skill set. However, LaFell could also be instrumental by asserting himself as a true threat on the outside, one that must be respected by opposing defenses. Don’t forget, LaFell was a top-flight wideout last season, coming 47 yards short of the 1,000-yard mark and also reeling in seven touchdowns on 73 receptions.

Thus far, LaFell has caught just 13 passes for 240 yards. If LaFell steps-up and becomes a focal point of the Pats’ passing game, his end-season stat line should look like 50 receptions, 750 yards and a few touchdowns to boot. Brady loves throwing LaFell’s way, and without Edelman at his disposal, LaFell should be seeing plenty of work in the days and weeks ahead.

Next: 2. Keshawn Martin, 1. Aaron Dobson