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    Patriots’ Brandon Lloyd less of a target lately

    Tom Brady congratulates Brandon Lloyd for a kick recovery; the QB and WR connected only once Sunday.
    Tom Brady congratulates Brandon Lloyd for a kick recovery; the QB and WR connected only once Sunday.

    Brandon Lloyd had one reception Sunday in Miami, in the fourth quarter, on the only time he was targeted by Tom Brady.

    Lloyd’s arrival in New England during the offseason was viewed as a positive: he had thrived with Josh McDaniels in Denver and St. Louis, and he would potentially give Brady another option at receiver, perhaps deflecting a defense’s attention away from Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.

    But for whatever reason, things seem to be not working out, at least not as well as it seemed they might. Lloyd and Brady have had difficulty connecting, and it shows in the ratio of times he’s been targeted vs. how many receptions he’s made.


    Lloyd has been targeted 89 times but has pulled in 50 receptions, a 56.2 percent reception rate.

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    By comparison, Welker has caught 72.7 percent of the passes thrown his way, a number that is nearly identical to Rob Gronkowski’s.

    Since the Patriots’ first game against the Jets, when Lloyd was targeted eight times but recorded only one catch, he has seen his targets fall: in the first seven games of the season, he averaged just over nine targets per game; since that Oct. 21 game with the Jets, he’s been targeted fewer than five times per game.

    Asked Monday what it would take for Lloyd to become a bigger part of the passing game, offensive coordinator McDaniels gave a positive assessment of the 31-year-old.

    “Brandon certainly played hard and has played hard all year,” McDaniels said. “There have been games where we’ve targeted him a lot. And there have been other games where based on the way somebody may play us, we target him less and the ball may go somewhere else.


    “I think Brandon keeps doing his job and trying to execute his assignments well. We’ve never been a team that likes to force the ball to one person or another. Yesterday, certainly, he didn’t have a lot of action in the passing game, but hopefully that will change, or could change, based on the way we get defended. He’s done a good job of running good routes and getting open and being available when his opportunities present themselves.

    “He’ll continue to do that; I know him.”

    To be fair, the Dolphins’ top cornerback, Sean Smith, covered Lloyd for most of Sunday’s game.

    But there could be another factor in his use: it seems Lloyd isn’t a big fan of contact. He has 50 catches for the season, but only 126 yards after the catch, an average of 2.52 yards after a catch.

    There are five other players who currently have 50 receptions, and all of them average 3.82 yards after a catch or better. Three of those five are tight ends.


    Welker, who leads the NFL with 92 receptions, averages 5.32 yards after the catch. He is second in the league in total YAC yards behind Minnesota’s Percy Harvin.

    Stallworth back

    Those wondering if the Patriots would bring in another receiver after the most recent injury to Julian Edelman have their answer: the team is bringing back Donte’ Stallworth.

    A league source confirmed that the 32-year-old has agreed to a contract with New England. The Patriots released Stallworth Aug. 27 after signing him to a free agent contract in March.

    Edelman suffered a foot injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win in Miami, and reporters saw him walk out of the locker room after the game on crutches and with a walking boot.

    The Patriots worked Stallworth out last week; he also had workouts with the Dolphins and Bills after his release in August, though he hadn’t signed with another team.

    Some were hoping for the Patriots to bring back Deion Branch, whose locker is still intact, but Branch had an injured hamstring at the time of his release, and it likely is still an issue.

    Bolden to return

    Running back Brandon Bolden’s four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy ended Monday. New England received a roster exemption for the rookie, meaning he will not yet count against the 53-man limit until he is activated . . . The Eagles signed offensive tackle Matt Kopa off the Patriots’ practice squad. Kopa, who attended Stanford, spent all of 2011 and 2012 on the practice squad. Saturday, the Cowboys signed Sterling Moore off the Patriots’ practice squad.

    Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.