New England Patriots receiver Jabar Gaffney pulled up at practice with apparently a right hamstring injury and it could come at a worse time. Though the injury doesn’t seem serious as Gaffney didn’t return to the locker room, this is a bad time for any of several Patriots wide receivers to miss snaps. The Patriots currently have two positions filled but every other spot is open for the remaining seven receivers.
Currently there are only two wide receiver positions that are filled. Perennial Pro Bowler Wes Welker and newly acquired Pro Bowler Brandon Lloyd are going to be the top two receivers for the Patriots in 2012. Last season, Welker had another stellar season leading the Patriots wide receivers in all categories. Following a disappointing season by Chad Johnson, the Patriots brought in Lloyd to be another key target downfield for Tom Brady. But after those two, every other position is up for grabs.
There are three other Patriots wide receivers returning from 2011. Those are Deion Branch, Julian Edleman, and Matthew Slater. Branch was Super Bowl XXXIX MVP in 2004 after which he left for Seattle. He returned in 2010 to where he had the majority of his NFL success. Julian Edleman was drafted by the Patriots in 2009 and made his impact in 2011 on the defensive side of the ball. With injuries and inconsistency in the defensive secondary, Edleman did a solid job helping the team at cornerback. Matthew Slater was a special teams captain in 2011 and had a strong season leading the team in special teams tackles.
Jabar Gaffney played with the Patriots from 2006 to 2008. After stints in Denver and Washington, he returned this offseason in an attempt to resurrect a dwindling career. Donte Stallworth is in the same position as Gaffney. Stallworth played in New England in 2007 but returned following one year stints in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington. Jeremy Ebert was drafted in the seventh-round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Northwestern. The most recent addition is Jesse Holley who was signed in June after spending three years with the Dallas Cowboys.
Other than the top two spots, all other wide receiver positions are available. Because of this, those vying for the positions cannot afford to be injured. An injury to one receiver means more reps for the others. With the battle between these seven receivers still undecided, they need as many reps as possible to show the coaches what they can do.