It looked like the Patriots might go the entire week without addressing their wide receiver depth, now that Danny Amendola is dealing with a right ankle injury that could keep him out for several weeks.
As we mentioned yesterday, rookie running back D.J. Foster is getting some work at receiver, but the Patriots added a veteran for insurance on Friday.
Griff Whalen, a Stanford alum, began his career with the Indianapolis Colts. Patriots fans might recall Whalen for his involvement in one of the more memorable plays between those two clubs in recent years – a failed fake punt by the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium last season.
The 26-year-old has caught 47 passes in the NFL – he was briefly with Miami earlier this year before appearing in eight games for San Diego – and has considerable experience as a punt and kick returner (46 and 25, respectively) in the NFL.
"We'll see how it goes. We'll see how he works into our receiver situation. I don't know," head coach Bill Belichick remarked. "We haven't seen much of anything from him... I mean, he hasn't had a ton of production as a returner, but he has returned. Again, we'll see."
Whalen took the field for his first Patriots practice Friday, wearing jersey No. 14. He is expected to speak with the media on Saturday, when New England concludes its week of preparations for Monday night's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Amendola was the only Patriot not able to practice Friday. Safety Jordan Richards (right knee) returned to on-field action for the first time since the Jets game in Week 12.
Mitchell in demand
Even before Amendola was injured, rookie pass catcher Malcolm Mitchell had begun to emerge as a reliable target in the Patriots offense. The past three weeks, he's set personal bests in receptions with 4, 5, and 8 grabs against the 49ers, Jets, and Rams.
That's made him a popular pick-up in many fantasy football leagues, but when informed of this by a member of the media today, Mitchell appeared unaware of the entire phenomenon of fantasy football.
"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell maintained. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means.
"That's cool, though, but I really have no idea about fantasy football."
"I got you on my team!" rookie QB Jacoby Brissett called out from his nearby locker, which drew laughter from Mitchell and the media in the vicinity.