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Patriots bring in three offensive players for free agency workouts The New England Patriots are busy these days. After trading for wide receiver Josh Gordon on Monday Ė a move that was made official yesterday Ė
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, the team also brought in three players for free agency workouts (according to ESPN Bostonís Mike Reiss). Letís take a look at them:QB Kyle AllenAfter going undrafted earlier this year, the Carolina Panthers added Kyle Allen as a free agent. The Houston product saw plenty of action early in the teamís preseason but ultimately failed to challenge former Patriots practice squad passer in Taylor Heinicke for a spot on the team. Allen, who finished his senior year in college with a 76.2% completion percentage (80 of 105), 751 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, was signed to the practice squad but released after the Panthersí season opener.RB Andre EllingtonA versatile running back that amassed over 3,000 yards from scrimmage over the course of his five-year career
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, Andre Ellington has been on the open market since the start of free agency. The 29-year old, who spent the majority of his career so far with the Arizona Cardinals, is an experienced runner between the tackle that also has seen plenty of targets in the passing game. Despite his smaller stature, he is there not unlike Patriots offseason acquisition Jeremy Hill, who was placed on injured reserve last week due to a torn ACL.RB Charcandrick WestCharcandrick West is another experienced running back brought in for a workout. The 27-year old has been used as a ball carrier and receiver out of the backfield since joining the league in 2014 Ė he has amassed 341 offensive touches for a combined 1,551 yards and 12 touchdowns Ė, and that also is no stranger to special teams. West
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, like Ellington, could therefore be a candidate for the fourth running back spot currently occupied by Kenjon Barner.Like they always do, the Patriots are again trying to keep their emergency lists updated: all three players brought in play at rather deep positions at the moment but could be called upon in case of injury or performance issues with the depth options at their respective spots Ė namely practice squad quarterback Danny Etling (less likely) and depth running back Kenjon Barner (more likely).How the Patriots can incorporate Josh Gordon into their offense The Patriots made headlines when they traded for troubled Browns receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon broke out with 87 catches for 1646 yards and 9 TD on 159 targets for Cleveland in 2013. That performance included a 10/151/2 day against Aqib Talib and the Patriots, in which NE barely escaped with a 26-21 victory. Since that year, Gordon has only seen 93 targets and 43 catches due to his own battles with addiction to recreational drugs and alcohol. With the Patriots receiving corps from Super Bowl LI and LII decimated by free agent departures, suspensions, and injuries
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, the team took a flyer on Gordon to try to recapture that old magic. The Patriots invested a 5th round pick in Gordon, which barring any more legal troubles or a relapse in his addiction issues means heís on the roster for the rest of the season. He brings a matchup element the Patriotsí other receivers donít have, size and speed. The Patriots currently have Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as their primary receivers, but neither guy is going to get open against #1 corners, especially against teams like Jacksonville that have two players of that caliber. Julian Edelman is back in Week 5, but coming off an ACL injury and 32 years old, itís not a safe bet to assume heíll be as productive as heís been the last 5 seasons. I expect the Patriots to employ Gordon in a very simplified role
, slowly easing him into the offensive game plan. I would not be surprised if he is inactive for Week 3, as the Patriots will be playing a Lions team thatís due for a culture shock. Gordon wonít be asked to understand the entire playbook, but rather the cliff notes version and what game plan they have for him against a given opponent. Here are some ways they can transition him into the offense in total:Go Routes:Gordonís biggest attribute as a receiver is the ability to separate vertically. His 6í3Ē height is also an advantage on those type of routes down the field due to his ability to high-point the football and keep it away from defenders. Just ask the SteelersThatís Gordonís only catch of the season to date, but it highlights the skill he has for vertical routes. The threat of the deep ball outside the numbers will allow the Patriots to attack the middle of the field in both the run and pass game. Rob Gronkowski is the Patriotsí only consistent threat to beat teams deep, which is why the safety is sitting towards the middle of the field or shaded to Gronkís side if he is lined up in the slot or on the boundary. I donít expect Gordon to consistently burn teams deep, but one or two deep completions to him will force teams to have to adjust their game plan. On these type routes, I expect him to be late in the progression unless matched up against smaller corners on an island. Slants and In-Breaking Routes:Gordonís deep speed is something teams will have to respect
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, which means they will be playing a lot of off-man or zone to combat that. Obviously teams arenít going to play zone because it turns into pitch and catch for Tom Brady and his RBs or Gronk. If teams are playing way off, I think hitting a couple slant or quick-in routes for free yards to keep drives can add an element of frustration for opposing defenders. One way to scheme this route open is to line up Gordon next to a slot receiver who is running a deeper route towards the boundary to set a natural pick on Gordonís defender. The Patriots did that with Michael Floyd back in 2016 when Floyd took a quick-in route and bulldozed the Miami defense to the end zone. In total, I donít expect big contributions from Gordon as a whole to the offense. However, teams are also very well aware what heís capable of from that breakout year with Cleveland five seasons ago. Whether that matchup has a domino effect that improves the Patriotsí chances of putting together a strong offense that can win the postseason is yet to be seen.
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