Antonio Brown is with the Patriots and is expected to play Sunday against the Dolphins. The next question is, how much he will play?
Bill Belichick indicated Friday that Brown has a long way to go.
“Obviously he’s not familiar with our offense,” said Belichick. “The systems that he’s been in have been quite different. Jon [Gruden, the Raiders coach] does the West Coast offense, which there’s very little carryover from their system to our system. Not bad or good . . . it’s just not all going to carry over, and a similar thing in Pittsburgh.”
If we use Josh Gordon as a test case, Brown could get ramped up slowly. Gordon was inactive for his first game with the Patriots, then played 18 snaps in the next two, at home against Miami and Indianapolis last year, before becoming a fixture in the offense for the remainder of his time on the active roster. After those first two game appearances, Gordon usually played about 80 percent of the offensive snaps.
“It can be tough,” Gordon said of getting up to speed. “It was for me. Everybody gets it differently. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, just depends on how much and how fast you can get rid of what you once knew to adopt a new everything. Environment. Offense. Way of life. I think as professionals, a lot of guys know it’s a part of the game. You can embrace it and adjust quickly. That’s how you adapt and survive in this league.”
Gordon said he felt supported as he learned the offense and wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, which helped him get up to speed. His comment about having to re-learn “a new everything” was interesting in light of Belichick highlighting the differences in the offenses Brown has been accustomed to.
Both Brown and Gordon came to the Patriots having spent time in offenses coordinated by Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh for most of Brown’s time there and the offensive coordinator in Cleveland last year when Gordon started with the Browns.
Belichick noted that the differences run deeper than just terminology.
“The systems just aren’t built from the same tree branches. I mean, there’s just formations, play calling, protections, routes,” Belichick said. “So, it’s associating one word with a word that you know, and now a new word trying to associate those two. But, they might be the same, they might not quite be the same. There could be subtle differences based on different coverages or leverage that the defender plays, or how we would run those routes. So, I mean, there’s a lot of variation there.
“I’d say the West Coast offense has core principles. From one team to another, I think a lot of those principles would carry over. But that’s not what we do.”
Perhaps that means Brown will need the same kind of gradual ramp up Gordon got. Gordon, however, did have a hamstring injury at the time he joined the Patriots, which could have had more to do with why he was initially inactive than any difficulty grasping the system.
Running back Brandon Bolden is dealing with a hamstring injury and was declared out for Sunday’s game.
Neither of the other two players on the injury report this week, tight end Matt LaCosse (ankle) and right tackle Marcus Cannon (shoulder), were ruled out.
Without Bolden, it’s possible rookie running back Damien Harris, who impressed in the preseason, could make his debut. Harris was inactive in Week 1.
Garron dead at 82
The Patriots announced that former running back Larry Garron died Friday at the age of 82.
Garron was an original member of the Boston Patriots in 1960 and played for the organization through 1968. He is ninth on the franchise’s all-time rushing list with 2,981 yards, and was a member of the organization’s All-Decade team of the ’60s. Garron also holds the record for the longest run in team history, an 85-yard touchdown against the Bills on Oct. 22, 1961.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Larry and all of the original Boston Patriots like him,” owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. “Without their many contributions, we would not be the franchise that we are today. Our condolences go out to all who are mourning Larry’s loss.”