New England Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins Will Be Needed For AFC Championship Game

By philipalexander
Kenbrell Thompkins
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Much like every rose has its thorn, every NFL player has his role. For Kenbrell Thompkins, his role is an outside possession receiver for the New England Patriots. While there is not much upside to that the role, Tom Brady will need all the help he can get.

Most people expect Josh McDaniels to lean heavily on the running game against the Denver Broncos, but there are a couple of problems with that theory. First, Jack Del Rio will probably be ready for that. So the Broncos defensive coordinator will most likely stack the box in an effort to contain the Patriots’ running backs.

Second, Peyton Manning is leading the league’s best offense. One cannot expect Matt Patricia‘s men to shut down Manning for the entire game, so Brady is going to need to put up some points to match Manning.

The best way to do that is through the air. Injuries to multiple wide receivers have prevented McDaniels from going to three-wide receiver sets. Instead, the Patriots offensive coordinator has stuck with two-tight end and I-formations. Those formations have been conducive to the running game.

So McDaniels will have to open things up to make it easier for Brady to throw the football. This would involve a three-wide receiver set with Thompkins and Aaron Dobson on the outside and Julian Edelman in the slot. It would be even better if McDaniels went to a four-wide receiver set, checking Danny Amendola in for Michael Hoomanawanui. That would really open up the passing game.

A lot of this depends on the health of Thompkins. If he does not play, McDaniels would probably stick to his run formations. That would make it harder for Brady to throw and would likely keep the Patriots one-dimensional.

Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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