FOXBOROUGH — Antonio Brown’s status for Sunday’s game in Miami is still up in the air, but Dolphins coach Brian Flores is preparing for the new Patriots wide receiver to have an impact.
“He’s a dynamic player,” Flores said in a conference call Wednesday morning. “They’ve got good coaches there. I’m sure they’ll find a way to get him involved in the offense. They could do it a few different ways. I could sit here and think of a hundred different ways they could do it. I would probably drive myself crazy trying to do that.”
Brown practiced Wednesday for the first time as a Patriot, although coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t say anything definitive about his availability for New England’s Week 2 matchup against the Dolphins. Brown has been accused of sexually assaulting and raping his former trainer Britney Taylor, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida. The NFL is investigating the civil matter.
If Brown does suit up, Flores will add him to the list of offensive weapons his team needs to contend with. The Patriots, without Brown, scored 33 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, racking up 465 total yards. Quarterback Tom Brady targeted seven players — most frequently wide receiver Julian Edelman — and connected for three touchdowns.
“For us, we just have to know where those key guys are,” Flores said. “Those key guys are obviously Brady, Edelman, [running back] James White, [wide receiver] Josh Gordon, and Antonio Brown. We have to know where they are and do our best to defend them all.”
The Dolphins are coming off a demoralizing 59-10 beatdown against the Baltimore Ravens in Flores’s coaching debut. Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson carved up Miami’s defense, completing 17 of his 20 pass attempts for 324 yards and five touchdowns. Despite reports of unrest emerging from the locker room, along with growing speculation the franchise is “tanking,” Flores insisted the team is working to improve each week.
“We’ve moved on from that one,” he said. “Guys are motivated, [and] guys are happy to be back out there. We put that one behind us.”
Flores will be game-planning against a slew of familiar faces in Week 2, having worked on New England’s staff for 14 years. While he still values his personal relationships with several current Patriots, he said he’s treating the game just like any other.
“They’re competitors, and they know I’m a competitor,” Flores said.
Safety Devin McCourty, well-aware of the team’s struggles away from Gillette Stadium last season, views Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium as an opportunity to get off to a good start on the road.
“I think that’s something we know we need to do better,” McCourty said.
The Patriots were 3-5 in away games last season, suffering their most egregious defeat in December when Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake scored the game-winning touchdown on a 69-yard play that featured a pass and two laterals in the final seconds.
“We pride ourselves on situational football and being prepared for those things,” McCourty said Wednesday. “It was a play defensively that really stunk for all of us.”
Miami has been a particularly challenging location for the Patriots, who are 1-5 in their last six games there. This time around, they’ll be facing 36-year-old veteran quarterback and Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins in March.
“Fitzmagic, man!” McCourty said. “He can make some things happen . . . Once he gets it going and gets in rhythm, he can be very dangerous and get a lot of yards. Even though he’s an older guy, he’s still pretty athletic and can get out of the pocket when he needs to.”
Against the Ravens in Week, Fitzpatrick threw one touchdown and one interception, recorded a 48.3 completion percentage, and was sacked twice. He is 2-9 against the Patriots during his 15-year career.
The Patriots had perfect attendance at practice. Running back Brandon Bolden (hamstring), offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (shoulder), and tight end Matt LaCosse (ankle) were all limited . . . The Patriots announced Wednesday they signed free agent offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse to the 53-man roster and defensive backs Obi Melifonwu and Nate Brooks to the practice squad. The team also released offensive lineman Colby Gossett from the practice squad.