By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots roster looks significantly different on Wednesday compared to last week. And the most eventful developments came at wide receiver.
As for next Monday against the Jets, Phillip Dorsett told reporters “I’ll be fine” when asked if he thinks he will play after he missed Thursday’s win over the Giants with a hamstring injury. Josh Gordon, however, wasn’t spotted at practice on Tuesday. He left Thursday’s game with a knee issue, but reportedly avoided something major.
Rookie receiver N’Keal Harry can’t play until Week 9 at the earliest, but he returned to practice at his first opportunity on Tuesday. That means he’s officially designated to return from injured reserve. The Pats have 21 days to either activate him or keep him on IR.
Harry certainly looks like he’ll be healthy enough to return at Baltimore. But we’ll see if the Patriots are ready to put him right out there. On the road against perhaps their toughest opponent of the season to that date, they might need him.
Read below for more thoughts from Foxboro…
Bennett puts himself over team
It’s clear at this point that Michael Bennett doesn’t want to do everything the Patriots ask of him.
Bennett told ESPN’s Jordan Schultz that the team suspended him over what he called a “philosophical disagreement” on Friday with defensive line coach Bret Bielema. Bennett became less of a fit once the Pats started playing more 3-4 and it’s translated to a lack of playing time, culminating in a season-low 11 snaps last Thursday.
But Bennett’s snap count is almost certainly not Bielema’s call. So a “philosophical disagreement” with him is essentially Bennett’s way of disagreeing with Bill Belichick. The head coach is overseeing more of the defense than usual this season in the wake of losing so many key assistants, and Bennett apparently expressed his dissatisfaction with his role in the operation to the point of getting himself suspended.
All Belichick’s philosophy has accomplished is a historic start for the Patriots defense, which is allowing 4.5 points per game as a unit through six games. They haven’t needed Bennett to get pressure on quarterbacks, either. They’re second in the NFL with 25 sacks and first with 48 QB hits.
But one of the major reasons for their success is that the players who are out there most of the time have sacrificed individual needs in the best interest of the team and followed Belichick’s lead. Bennett needs to learn what most of the locker room already understands: his job is to play, not espouse his philosophical disagreements.
When his suspension ends, he likely has one of two choices: listen to the coaches and just play football, or punch his ticket out of New England.
Roster shuffles everywhere
The Pats had quite a busy day on Tuesday, making moves on both the main roster and practice squad. They waived quarterback Cody Kessler and officially placed fullback Jakob Johnson on injured reserve in order to make room for tight ends Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson. Watson has a chance to add a reliable target for Tom Brady, while Tomlinson could be Johnson’s replacement at FB.
On the practice squad, the Pats signed WR Devin Ross and re-signed C/G Tyler Gauthier. An undrafted rookie out of Miami, Gauthier spent training camp with the Pats. They released kicker Younghoe Koo and TE Jason Vander Laan to make room.
Elsewhere on the practice squad, OT Dan Skipper signed with the Texans, which creates yet another opening on the practice squad. Kessler is not eligible. It’s possible that the Pats use the spot on one of the kickers they brought in for workouts on Tuesday. Click here for a full recap of their moves.
Brooks back with ex-Jets teammate
New Patriots tight end Eric Tomlinson spent 2016-18 with the Jets, the last two with Terrence Brooks. Now they both get to say they’re facing their former team.
Brooks said Tuesday that he didn’t even know the Patriots signed Tomlinson until the two locked eyes in a team meeting. Based on Brooks’ description, Tomlinson certainly sounds like a Patriot.
“He’s a good player. He works hard,” Brooks said. “I think a lot of the guys they bring in here love football and they want to work hard, and I feel like that’s what you’re going to get out of him.”
Patriots shift media schedule
With the Pats set to play Monday instead of Sunday, they’ve shifted their media schedule back a day. There will be no media availability on Wednesday. Here’s what to expect for the rest of the week:
11:45 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference
3:45 p.m.: Devin McCourty and James White press conferences
3:45 p.m.: Patriots locker room open to media
11:15 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference
1:40 p.m.: Tom Brady press conference
We’ll have plenty more to report in the coming days.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.