The AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs is still nine days away, but the New England Patriots are facing some tough injuries at the wide receiver position. Both Aaron Dobson (foot) and Josh Boyce (ankle) did not practice yesterday, leaving Kenbrell Thompkins as the only healthy candidate to play split end.
For those of you who do not remember, Thompkins was actually the starting split end when the Patriots began the regular season. At that time, however, Thompkins was not competing with anybody else for the job. Josh McDaniels had actually gone to a three-wide receiver, one-tight end base package. As the weeks wore on, McDaniels decided to move to a two-wide receiver, two-tight end package.
That move left Thompkins as dust in the wind. Julian Edelman had already locked himself into the flanker/slot position (depending on where Rob Gronkowski lined up), and Dobson had supplanted Thompkins at the split end position. With only two wide receivers on the field for most of the time, Thompkins rarely saw any action.
Eventually Dobson got injured, moving Thompkins back into the rotation. He made some catches here and there, but was not as productive as he was earlier in the season. Then fate struck as Thompkins got injured himself, missing two games. Dobson eventually got healthy again, which left Thompkins hanging out to dry for a second time. That did not last long, however, as Dobson got injured last Sunday.
So for now, the split end job belongs to Thompkins. If Dobson misses the playoff game, it will be Thompkins that will have to produce from that spot. He will have to win his battles as Tom Brady simply cannot throw to Edelman and Shane Vereen all game. For all we know, Thompkins could be the next wide receiver that Brady turns into a postseason hero.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.