The Patriots passing game did not get off to a great start but with veterans Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola working their way back to the lineup things should improve. But even if they both get back on the field sooner rather than later it would be reasonable if each needed a little more time to knock off the rust and regain their top form – especially Gronkowski.
So, until then the Patriots will need somebody to step up and take the pressure off while Tom Brady continues to figure out ways to be productive enough to win games. There are three rookie receivers to choose from, plus tight end Zach Sudfeld.
The rookie wideouts would seem to be the most logical choices. Kenbrell Thompkins has been a starter on the outside and Aaron Dobson showed flashes of ability in his debut against the Jets. Josh Boyce hasn't gotten many opportunities thus far but possesses game-changing speed and could emerge as a threat.
So our Samsonite Make Your Case question this week is: Which rookie receiver will step up to provide another option in the passing game?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Coming off his NFL debut against the Jets, I know that plenty of people were questioning Dobson. But we need to remember this is a guy who's known for his hands and was a second-round pick. The team clearly had high hopes for him and he had a good but not great summer.
It's not easy for a rookie receiver to come in to his first NFL game on a short week for a prime time game against a division rival. Dobson showed the ability to get open against New York. That's a good sign for a guy who struggled in that area at times this summer. The more comfortable he gets in the offense and working with Tom Brady the better the results are going to be.
As the highest drafted among the trio of rookie receivers, the most is and should be expected out of Dobson. I fully expect him to look better this Sunday against the Bucs, assuming of course that Tampa doesn't decide for some reason to match up Darrelle Revis against the rookie. As long as that doesn't happen, Dobson's career as a Patriots playmaker will get a second chance to make a first impression.
Hopefully he can build on the 39-yard touchdown that came on his first career catch last Thursday night. Dobson is ready to be a positive force for a passing attack that needs someone to step up.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
I'll admit I didn't know much about Thompkins before the start of OTAs in the spring but since then he's been the most consistent performer of the rookie receivers. He seems well-suited for a role on the outside and he's gotten the majority of chances to make plays thus far. That tells me Tom Brady has some faith in him, and he will reward the quarterback for that soon.
Thompkins is a nice blend of speed and size with the ability to get off the line effectively against press coverage while also showing the ability to separate from defenders on his routes. Now he just needs to put all of those elements together, catch the ball consistently and start making the plays we saw all summer on the practice field and in the preseason games.
I'm not expecting Thompkins or any of the rookie wideouts to break any records, but of the three he is the most logical choice to step up and fill the void until Gronk and Amendola can get back to form.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your case poll question.