FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots got through the preseason virtually unscathed before star receiver Julian Edelman suffered a season-ending knee injury a week before the final exhibition game.
Without one of Tom Brady’s favorite options, coach Bill Belichick could have filled the roster spot with one of the rookies that had impressed the coaching staff during training camp.
Instead he used the setback to go looking for a more experienced asset that could potentially provide help in multiple areas, trading third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to Indianapolis for receiver Phillip Dorsett — a 2015 first rounder.
While Belichick has shown a willingness to carry three quarterbacks in the past, depth in the receiving group was of a greater priority at this point in the season than carrying extra insurance behind Brady.
“If you want to get something you have to give up something,” Belichick said of the decision to let go of Brissett.
Dorsett has been in the Patriots’ facility since Sunday. Still, it’s unclear how much — if at all — he will factor into the game plan for Thursday night’s season opener against Kansas City with so little time to get acclimated to New England’s system.
But Dorsett said Tuesday it hasn’t deterred him from digging right into his new playbook.
“It’s been good,” Dorsett said of his first 72 hours as a Patriot. “I’m just trying to get on the field and get to it. It’s definitely been a transition for me, but I’m the person to be able to do something like this.”
He isn’t worried about trying to bite off too much, too soon.
“I don’t really put that much pressure on myself,” he said. “A lot of people do and it doesn’t help, honestly. Some people it does, some people it doesn’t.”
Dorsett has improved in each of his first two years in the league. He had 18 catches for 225 yards and touchdown as a rookie in 2015. Last season he caught 33 passes for 528 yards and two scores.
Dorsett may be the new guy in New England, but there are familiar faces.
He was teammates with running back James White at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida when it went undefeated and won the 2008 state championship. White and Dorsett were two of several future NFL players on that team. He also played with tight end Dwayne Allen, another offseason Patriots acquisition from Indianapolis.
“It’s kind of similar to here,” White said of the ’08 Aquinas team. “A lot of guys that worked hard. Worked hard in school. Worked hard on the field. We hung out on and off the field … A close-knit group.”
The good news for New England is that it won’t need Dorsett to play a big role in the offense. The receiver group already features Brandin Cooks, along with Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell.
But it was noteworthy that Mitchell was a limited participant in practice on Monday.
There is also an opening on special teams following Cyrus Jones’ knee injury in the preseason finale. Dorsett was previously used sparingly in college at Miami and by the Colts as both a punt and kick returner.
At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds Dorsett has a similar frame to Cooks, and both are known for their speed.
Dorsett said he’s open to whatever role he’s asked to fill.
“I’m just in it. You have to be in it,” he said. “I go back to the hotel and study as much as I can until I get tired. And then I try to study more. At the end of the day I think it’ll be worth it.”
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