FOXBOROUGH — Josh Gordon is bigger, and he thinks that will make him better.
According to the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, Gordon weighs approximately 236 pounds, having dropped some weight after he showed up for Patriots’ camp at 245 pounds in August when his suspension was lifted. That’s still heavier than the 225 pounds he’s been listed at on the roster, something Gordon sounded excited about Friday when he said he’s in the best shape he’s been in since he joined the Patriots last season.
“By far,” Gordon said. “I don’t have any injuries this year, fortunately. Me and [strength and conditioning coach] Moses Cabrera have been in the training room every morning getting after it and continue to grow. It’s only Week 2. I’m excited, we’re all excited to see what happens halfway toward the end of the season. I think it’s going to be a huge upside at that point.”
Gordon, who is 6 feet 3 inches, does look bigger and stronger, although no one was calling him slight in the first place. He ran multiple routes from the slot in Week 1, working the middle of the field more than he did with the Patriots last season. He shed defenders on a crossing route and held onto the ball despite a huge hit over the middle on a seam route in a performance that was Rob Gronkowski-esque.
Gronkowski lined up all over the formation, not just in the traditional tight end spot next to a tackle, so a big, physical receiver such as Gordon could slip into Gronkowski’s old spots on certain plays. Coach Bill Belichick, however, said not to draw too close a comparison between the positions. A big receiver could not necessarily be used like a tight end in the New England offense, he said.
“It depends,” Belichick said Friday. “A lot of tight end routes are different than the receiver routes just as a fundamental part of the offense. So, when you start to talk about tight ends playing receiver, that takes a special kind of athlete and a special type of — I mean, there’s techniques to playing receiver that are different from playing tight end. There are techniques that are different from playing receiver, and include slot receiver.
“They’re just different positions. So, I mean, could you line him up there? Yeah, I guess you could line him up there, but you’re talking about putting a guy into a new world really, on a lot of levels. Seeing the game from the inside-out, seeing the game from the outside-in. I mean, that’s a pretty big difference.
“I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I think that’s the type of thing that would take time, years, and the right kind of player that would be able to do all of that. So, I think that would be asking a lot really of almost any player. Now, I mean you could take a guy like Tony Gonzalez, who could play receiver and play tight end. He’s in the Hall of Fame. So, I’m not saying there aren’t guys who can do that, but I wouldn’t say it’s a long list.”
So, as Belichick expansively explained, it’s not a one-to-one comparison. However, with the Patriots seemingly moving to a less tight-end centric offense this season, someone has to run the crash routes over the middle. A bulked-up Josh Gordon seems like a candidate.
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The Patriots had full attendance Friday, the last day of practice open to reporters before the team heads to Miami.
Antonio Brown, who wore No. 1 in his first practice with the team but switched to No. 17 the following day, wore No. 17 again. There is still no number beside his nameplate in the Patriots’ locker room, but a Patriots duffel bag with the No. 17 was packed in front of Brown’s locker, an indication he’s traveling with the team to Miami, as expected.
“We’ll do what’s best for the team,” is what Belichick said about whether Brown would play.
Running back Brandon Bolden (hamstring), right tackle Marcus Cannon (shoulder), and tight end Matt LaCosse (ankle) were listed as limited participants on the practice report, as they have been all week. All three are questionable to play Sunday.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, will be down a few important players. Safety Reshad Jones (ankle) and wide receiver Albert Wilson (hip/calf) were declared out Friday, and right tackle Julien Davenport (broken leg) was placed on injured reserve.
Miami listed four players as questionable: defensive end Charles Harris (wrist), linebacker Trent Harris (foot), center Daniel Kilgore (shoulder), and safety Bobby McCain (shoulder).
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Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts didn’t play on defense in Week 1, which was surprising given that he’d just been voted a team captain. Belichick said Roberts wasn’t on the field primarily because the Steelers played a spread-out offense, usually using three or more receivers.
“Elandon is a great team player,” Belichick said. “He has a great attitude. He’s very physically and mentally tough, it’s a long season, we have a lot of football. I’m sure he’ll play a lot of football.”
Roberts was active, but didn’t get in despite the absence of Kyle Van Noy, who was with his wife for the birth of their child.