Catching is the primary job for a wide receiver. But when an offense runs the football, the pass catchers still have a vital role to play.
In the blowout win against Cincinnati last week, Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola each had just one reception.
Check out practice and media access photos from NFL Week 6 as Patriots prepare to take on the Buffalo Bills.
"I definitely wish I'd done more for our team," LaFell admitted, "but at the end of the day, we won the game and I was excited for my teammates. My guy Tim [Wright] got in the end zone. I was excited. Everybody out there was making plays."
Sometimes those plays came in the running game, with receivers making crucial blocks down field to help running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen tally 113 and 90 yards respectively versus the Bengals.
"Last week, [Dobson] had a big block for Ridley," LaFell continued. "We always preach that, whether it's another receiver catching the ball, always make sure you cover your man at the end of the play. Don't let your man be the one to stop the touchdown."
"We're all a team. I know I can't get the ball every play, our receivers can't get the ball every play," echoed Dobson. "You have to take solace in blocking for the running backs. We block every day [in practice]."
New England's receivers may be called upon again this week in Orchard Park, N.Y. to do more blocking than catching, as LaFell acknowledged.
"Going against Buffalo, their front seven is probably one of the best in the league, with Kyle and Mario Williams up front, they got [former Patriots linebacker Brandon] Spikes. If we want to have another game with explosive plays, receivers have to get down field and cover up these safeties and DBs."
"It's big. Division game," added Dobson. "We can't get our heads too big with that [Cincinnati] win. It was a big win, but we have to come back down to earth right away and get ready for Buffalo."
Wright on target
On the receiving end, it was a big day for Wright against the Bengals, as LaFell noted. The young tight end caught five passes for 85 yards and a score Sunday night in Foxborough.
"I'm coming along. I've got a far way to go," he told reporters Wednesday. "The coaches are doing a great job each week with all the game plans they're implementing and getting me up to speed, putting me in position to succeed."
The Patriots came out with the most enthusiasm they'd shown all season, and were able to sustain it for four quarters in the Bengals win. They'll need to replenish their reserves of energy for the road trip to Western New York this weekend, according to Wright.
"It's very important. That's our goal. We want to do the same things on the road that we're doing at home: get out to a fast start, control the game. It's a big game for us."
New England conducted a walkthrough practice Wednesday on their grass practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Nearly every player was in attendance, although at least two players were not seen. Safety Nate Ebner and rookie o-lineman Cameron Fleming both missed all of last week's practices and the Bengals game while dealing with finger injuries sustained at Kansas City.
Meanwhile, co-captain Matthew Slater has been added to the injury report with a shoulder issue. Rookie DL Dominique Easley also now has a shoulder problem to go along with the knee ailment he was listed with a week ago. Safety/co-captain Devin McCourty is new to the report, too, with a rib injury sustained against Cincinnati.