FOXBOROUGH — While being generally tight-lipped about the situation surrounding Josh Gordon, Bill Belichick expressed his belief Friday in the receivers who stand to see their roles increase because of Gordon’s departure, as did Tom Brady.
“Phil’s tremendous,” Belichick said of Phillip Dorsett, who was playing 80 percent of the offensive snaps before Gordon got worked into the offense, but had been an afterthought since. “He’s a tremendous kid, great teammate. I think he has everybody’s total respect in the locker room on everything — his preparation, the way he treats other people, how unselfish he is, how he’s always ready for his role. You saw that in the Super Bowl last year. So, I don’t think you could ask for any more than what he gives the team.”
Belichick said he has “confidence” in Cordarrelle Patterson, who has played more as a true wide receiver in recent weeks after spending his early days in Foxborough running end-arounds and gadget plays, then working as a running back midseason, in addition to his role on special teams.
“He’s played multiple positions for us, going all the way back to the spring,” Belichick said. “We have a lot of confidence in the things he can do, and he’s done multiple things for us.”
Belichick said that Chris Hogan, who probably won’t see a huge increase in snaps without Gordon but whose performance down the stretch becomes far more important, has “been healthy all year, so that’s a good thing.”
Belichick also said that practice squad receiver Damoun Patterson has been “making progress.”
It seems unlikely that the Patriots will sign an additional receiver at this point.
It will become more clear at kickoff Sunday against the Bills if Belichick was just paying lip service to these other receivers, or if the Patriots believe they can be counted on to pick up some of the slack for Gordon.
Kamalu gets call
On Friday, the Patriots promoted defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Considering the Patriots’ recent struggles against the run, the move should provide a bit of clarity as to what the Patriots believe Kamalu does best.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 300-pounder is an interesting case because he has the body type of a defensive tackle but played mostly outside linebacker/defensive end during his last stop in Houston. Kamalu played in 13 games for the Texans in 2016 and 2017.
Earlier this month, Belichick said the Patriots were still learning about the player.
“I think we’re trying to figure it out, but yeah, he’s an interesting player to work with and a good player to work with. [He] works hard, smart . . . plays outside linebacker to defensive end to defensive tackle.
“You know, he hasn’t really done a lot in our defense, more it’s been scout team and so forth and drills, but he works hard, he’s smart, he picks things up, he has done and is able to do different things for us. So, we’ll see how it goes, but yeah, he’s an interesting guy. We don’t really have anybody like him from a skill-set standpoint. So, I’d say we’re kind of trying to figure it out a little bit. But, he gets better every day. So, we’ll keep working with him, see how it goes.”
Given that defensive tackle Danny Shelton has been a healthy scratch for the last three games, promoting Kamalu isn’t simply a depth move. It’s either an insurance move to prevent other teams from poaching him off the practice squad, which happens often at this time of year, or a move made because they want to use him in games.