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It may not look like it, but Patriots say receiver Phillip Dorsett is catching on

Patriots wide reciever Phillip Dorsett (right) had three catches for 68 yards against the Saints on Sept. 17.
Patriots wide reciever Phillip Dorsett (right) had three catches for 68 yards against the Saints on Sept. 17. Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — On the stat sheet, it seems as if wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is taking a while to get worked into the Patriots offense.

Acquired in September from the Colts for quarterback Jacoby Brissett, the former first-round pick has been held without a catch in all but two of the Patriots games this season. Dorsett flashed against the Saints with three catches for 68 yards and caught one ball for 17 yards against the Panthers.

But he’s getting there, the coaching staff says.

“Phil’s gotten better every week,” coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. “We’ve expanded his role and scope, things that he’s learning and areas that he’s responsible for every week. He’s a smart kid. He works hard. He’s making progress.”


Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels noted that Dorsett has been spending extra time with wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea to speed along that transition.

“Chad’s doing a great job of trying to get him caught up on some of the things, the foundational things that you need to be able to go from one week to the next and feel like you’re not learning a new offense every single week,” McDaniels said. “Phillip’s a smart kid, he works hard, he’s got a good work ethic, good attitude and he’s continued to work at playing different spots and being ready to go when his opportunities come up. Hopefully, that will continue to progress as we go through the season. I know that’s what he wants. I know that’s what we want, and we’re looking forward to that.”

Dorsett said he was well aware of how complicated the Patriots offense is before he was traded. Even if it hasn’t shown up in games, he’s learned the playbook and has gotten more comfortable with the different formations, movements, and decoy routes he’s asked to run.


“This is a difficult system,” Dorsett said. “I mean, everybody knows that. But they know I’m well aware and capable of being able to come in and pick it up, and they asked me to do a lot of things. When you get it you’ve got to home and you’ve got to work at it. It’s just repetition and I mean I’m a smart enough guy to be able to get it.”

More targets and more catches are all in due time, Dorsett believes. After all, he’s only been a Patriot for 10 weeks, and his all of his things didn’t even arrive in Massachusetts until two weeks ago.

Dorsett was living in the hotel at Patriot Place for the first two months of the season. Living in one little room was “rough,” though he’s happily settled in a house with his brother and girlfriend now.

“It was a lot of washing clothes,” Dorsett said. “A lot of asking for quarters to use the hotel washing machine.”

There was one silver lining. Dorsett loves bowling, and he needed only to walk downstairs to the Splitsville Luxury Lanes in the shopping complex next to Gillette Stadium. Dorsett said he hadn’t been able to go that often while learning a new system and getting adjusted to life as a Patriot.

Dorsett got into bowling his last year of college at Miami, and getting to the lanes for a change-of-pace became part of his routine while he was training for the NFL Scouting Combine.


“I used to go almost every day,” Dorsett said. “I got addicted to it. When I first picked it up my agent kept beating me, and I got mad so I went and got my own ball, got my own shoes and I just got good at it.”

His top score is a 257.

Dorsett thinks he’ll start putting up numbers on the football field soon. He’s more confident in the offense, and the coaching staff seems to agree that his role stands to increase. Eight games plus a bye have provided enough time to get settled.

Plus, he’s got a nice place to live and his things around him, now that everything has been delivered. In those boxes shipped up from Indianapolis? Two pairs of bowling shoes and two 16-pound balls, one marbled with sky, royal and navy blues and the other a mix of blue and orange.

Jean Francois signed

The Patriots defensive front seven is in flux, and the team added two defensive tackles, signing Ricky Jean Francois to the 53-man roster and Mike Purcell to the practice squad.

Jean Francois, 30, is in his ninth NFL season. He has spent time with the 49ers,. Colts, Redskins and Packers, who released him Nov. 1.

Purcell had been with the Patriots on the practice squad earlier this season, though for just a day.

Missing pieces

Left tackle Nate Solder, linebacker Shea McClellin, right tackle Marcus Cannon, receiver Chris Hogan, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown were not spotted at the start of Tuesday’s practice in cloudy Foxborough.


Solder was present in the locker room after the practice, and he had not been on the injury report before the bye. On other Tuesdays he has been given a personal day to be at his son’s cancer treatments.

Brown (shoulder) and Cannon (ankle) had been on the injury report before the bye week, and Hogan injured his shoulder in the Chargers game. McClellin had been practicing and it was hoped he’d be activated off injured reserve before Sunday’s game in Denver, but the linebacker is now set to miss the remainder of the season after a setback.

Offensive tackle Andrew Jelks, who had been on the reserve/non-football injury list, was also spotted practicing. Jelks, an undrafted free agent signing this year, missed his last two college seasons at Vanderbilt with a twice-torn ACL and hasn’t played football since 2014.

My old school

Belichick went back to school over the bye week, spending time at his alma mater, Wesleyan University, for Homecoming/Family Weekend. Wesleyan officials dedicated Belichick Plaza in honor of Belichick, a member of the class of 1975, and his daughter Amanda Belichick, a member of the class of 2007 and a former Wesleyan women’s lacrosse coach.

Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.