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Extra Points

How Do The Patriots Wide Receivers Feel About The Distribution Of Passes?

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Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

FOXBOROUGH — There are other pass-catchers in New England besides wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski, though you may not know it from looking at the stat sheet.

Those two have combined for 20 of the Patriots' 44 total receptions, 32 of their 78 total targets, 248 of their 398 receiving yards and both of their receiving touchdowns.

How do the other receivers feel about it?

"Just gotta keep doing what I'm doing, you know," wide receiver Aaron Dobson said on Friday in the Patriots' locker room. "Just running my routes and trying to get open, and hopefully the ball comes my way."

Okay, rather boilerplate answer from the second-year wide-out. That's to be expected, and any player can have a big game at any point for the offense.

Of course, Dobson's opportunities have been fairly limited so far. He was a healthy scratch for Week 1, and had only two targets (with one catch) in Week 2. Other receivers have yet to even record a catch. One of those receivers would like to get the ball a little more.

"Man, like every other receiver, I would like to get the ball every snap if I can," said veteran wide-out Brandon LaFell, "but within this offense, we just go out there and we just take whatever the defense gives us."

LaFell has been targeted six times in two games, but was not targeted at all against the Vikings.

What has happened? Tom Brady may simply be feeding the ball to his two best targets, who are open the most frequently. The Patriots may be focusing on getting the ball out of Brady's hands more quickly in an effort to mask some of the issues on their offensive line. Maybe the Patriots other receivers simply aren't getting open.

Or maybe the other receivers are getting open, but Brady is throwing to an open receiver, indiscriminate of the name or number on their jersey.

"Yeah, I think I've been getting open, but at the same time I'm getting open, other guys like Julian and Gronk, they've been open too," LaFell said, "so you can't complain when you're not getting the ball when other guys that are open are getting the ball."

Obviously, the more often those other receivers get open, the more balls they will get thrown their way. The competitive spirit in these receivers hasn't ended with the conclusion of training camp, though.

"It's always competition," said Dobson. "It's competition every week, day-in and day-out, so we're just going out there and practicing hard and doing what we can do."

Everyone at Gillette Stadium — from Brady to Bill Belichick to Josh McDaniels to the receivers and anyone else with a mouth and a voice — knows that the Patriots offense must do a better job of spreading the ball to all the weapons in the passing game. This is not lost on anyone.

Now, it's time for the Patriots to do something about it.



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