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Sunday 7: Bill Belichick was right about Cordarrelle Patterson

Ryan Hannable
August 26, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. When the Patriots traded for Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason, Bill Belichick indicated he may be used differently than he has been in the past, and through three preseason games it appears Belichick is right. Before coming to New England, Patterson was pretty much just a kick returner and a gadget player. Now with the Patriots, the 27-year-old appears to have more of a role as a receiver and has also added punt return duties to his resume. Friday night against the Panthers was a perfect example of his new role as he handled both the kick return and punt return duties for the first half until Cyrus Jones took over in the second half. He was also the Patriots’ most targeted receiver, catching five passes for 36 yards on nine targets. Given his speed and athleticism, it’s apparent he has the ability to make a play every time he touches the ball and the Patriots are doing what they can to make that happen. They’ve called his number on wide receiver screens, slants over the middle of the field and also go routes up the sideline. “He’s been good. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Belichick said on a conference call Saturday afternoon. “We’ve had him in a lot of different roles and different responsibilities on offense and in the kicking game. He’s been great. Tries to understand what we want him to do and does his best to do it the way he’s asked to do it. Some things are new to him, some things are things he’s done before. He’s been used in many different roles in Minnesota and in Oakland so most things he’s had some exposure to. But it’s something new to him, then he’s very anxious and eager to learn the way to do it and try to do his best at it. So that’s a great thing. It’s great to work with players like that.” Patterson is one of three locks at the receiver position and it will be interesting to see how he’s incorporated into the offense with getting the ball in his hands as much as possible.

2. The wide receiver position is an interesting one, as the No. 4 receiver spot is there for the taking and no one has seized the opportunity. Eric Decker has struggled with picking up the offense, Riley McCarron has been inconsistent, and then players like Devin Lucien and Paul Turner haven’t played enough for serious consideration. It seems quite possible the team could look to a player not on the team now to fill the final spot either via trade or waiver wire, or maybe the team enters the season with only three receivers besides Matthew Slater until Julian Edelman comes back from his four-game suspension. Given the pass-catching abilities at other positions, the team could certainly get away with it and use the roster spot for a player more deserving and who will make more of an impact.

3. When it comes to replacing Isaiah Wynn’s roster spot following him reportedly being out for the year with an Achilles injury, it seems like Ulrick John is the leader in the clubhouse. John saw the most snaps of any offensive player against the Panthers (41) and was the second string right tackle. Veteran Matt Tobin saw 37 snaps, compared to second-year player Cole Croston seeing only two. Of course, things can always change, but right now it seems like John will benefit most from Wynn’s injury. The 26-year-old has bounced around the league since being selected in the seventh round by the Colts in the 2014 draft and has played in 10 total NFL games.

4. One thing that stood out in Friday’s game was the first-team offense always operated with Edelman on the field. With the wide out missing the first four games, why didn’t the Patriots simulate this in the preseason with him sitting out a few series when the first unit was still on the field? Given Brady’s chemistry with Edelman, he obviously looked his way in some of the biggest situations, but what good does that do him preparing for Weeks 1-4 when he won’t have him available? As for Edelman himself, despite a few drops in recent weeks, he’s moving fairly close to what he was before the torn ACL, which is a great sign.

5. Two players who suspiciously haven’t played much (or at all) in the preseason are rookie quarterback Danny Etling and undrafted rookie punter Corey Bojorquez. Etling saw limited reps late in the first two games and Bojorquez hasn’t played at all. One theory is the team is trying to limit the tape on both players so it has a better chance of slipping them onto the practice squad next weekend. In past years the No. 3 quarterback has played the entire fourth preseason game, but we’ll see if that is the case with Etling come Thursday night.

6. Cornerback is probably the most competitive spot on the roster right now and it will be interesting to see what is done with rookies Keion Crossen and J.C. Jackson. Both have shown they are worthy of making the team, it’s just the numbers might not work out. But, given their talent it seems unlikely the Patriots will be able to sneak them both onto the practice squad. From this viewpoint, Crossen is just a tad ahead of Jackson since he played with the starters at the end of the first half Friday and Jackson did not see the field until the second half.

7. The Patriots will take on the Giants in New Jersey for the final preseason game Thursday night. Typically, the starters don’t play, but maybe that could change this week — at least for some of them. Both units didn’t play that well Friday night and maybe Belichick has them play a few series to get some confidence back before hosting the Texans in Week 1.

Related: Bill Belichick seems to praise Eric Decker